Whether you’ve noticed an increase in adverts on the TV or radio about the subject, or know people that have been affected, it’s been difficult not to spot the growing presence of medical negligence and related compensation cases.
The increase in cases does not necessarily reflect a drop in standards across the healthcare profession and explaining why negligence is on the up requires several factors to be considered.
Here we will look to explain what is behind this trend.
Cases on the rise
In the decade between 2006-07 and 2016-07, NHS Trusts’ clinical negligence spending exploded four-fold, with the number of cases where damages were awarded in clinical negligence claims rising from 2,800 to 7,300.
Three years later in 2019-20, NHS Resolution reported that that figure had grown to over 11,500 new clinical claims being brought, with over 15,000 claims being settled in the same time period.
Of the claims settled, almost three-quarters (71.5%) did so without the need for court proceedings.
Why the increase?
NHS funding has slowed significantly over the past decade, which has put added strain on many departments and staff – something that can result in mistakes at work and breaches of duty of care.
It also remains to be seen how the additional stress and issues with hospital capacity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will have impacted clinical negligence cases over the past year.
However, it would perhaps be unfair to only pin the rise in cases on a falling in standards.
Many people are now simply more aware of their rights after suffering clinical negligence and are bringing cases, where previously they may not have done so – despite being entitled to compensation.
Law firms specialising in medical negligence also make it much easier for claimants to come forward, with a range of communication options available and solicitors who will explain every step of the process in clear detail.
How much does it cost the NHS?
In the decade between 2006-07 and 2016-07, NHS Trusts’ clinical negligence spending exploded four-fold, up to £1.6bn.
In the three years to 2019-20, NHS Resolution reported a further increase to £2.3bn in payouts.
NHS Resolution is the body set up to handle claims on behalf of the health service and its payouts are taken from a separate budget to that which funds our healthcare – something that many claimants are beginning to realise.