Mediation has become the key focus of the NHS Resolution’s (NHSR) strategy in an attempt to decrease rising legal costs.
NHSR is a body of the Department of Health who assist with the resolution of concerns and preserve resources for patient care.
Their budget has increased by 250% from £26 billion in 2014, to £65 billion in 2017. As a result, NHSR have made their focus on mediation a high priority in their strategy to address rising costs of resolving clinical negligence claims in a more cost effective way.
The Annual Report and Accounts, published by the NHSR, state that the number of new clinical negligence claims had plateaud in 2017/18 at 10,673. Claimants’ legal costs decreased by 6.4% to £467 million. However, there has been an increase in defence legal costs by 2.5% to £128 million. In the past 12 months, the NHSR has mediated more claims than ever before in its history.
The use of mediation has been welcomed by NHSR chief executive, Helen Vernon. However, costs are still proving to be at an all-time high. She stated that the NHSR’s “total provisions for all our indemnity schemes continue to rise, from £65 billion to £75 billion, which brings a renewed urgency to efforts across government to tackle the drivers of that cost.”
Dr Christine Tomkins, the chief executive for the Medical Defence Union (MDU), claims that a “hostile legal climate” is to blame. The MDU is an organisation that aims to indemnify doctors for incidents arising during their care of patients.
However, Richard Lodge, a partner at law firm Kingsley Napley, feels that “more prudent management of cases would make an important difference in keeping a lid on costs” and “to avoid mistakes to prevent these claims in the first place.”
Emma Hallinan, the director of claims policy and legal at the Medical Protection Society (MPS), an organisation for the protection of doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals, has urged for legal reform. She stated that this is “required to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable but also affordable.”
Mr Lodge feels that “the clinical negligence lawyer community should respond accordingly to this new emphasis from Helen Vernon.” He states that “it makes sense for all parties- victim clients and NHS Trusts- to resolve their differences as early as possible, for financial and other reasons.”
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence law. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456 to discuss your concerns.