AvMA gives cautious welcome to proposed Scottish no-blame compensation scheme

Published: 24 Jun 2016

AvMA welcomes the intentions of Scottish Government to create a fairer way of compensating people and aligning this effort with other processes for improving patient safety. If carefully designed and implemented well the proposed redress scheme will be a radical improvement offering fair redress to many more people in Scotland and developing a learning culture.

However, the proposals currently lack sufficient detail and we have serious concerns about some of them. If the proposals are not improved, they could end up being a retrograde step.

We welcome the innovative proposal to adopt an avoidability test for determining eligibility. It is only fair that people whose harm could have been avoided if they had simply received a reasonable level of care should receive redress. However, ‘reasonable care’ needs to be better defined as does the consideration of causation. The new test needs to be significantly easier to meet than the test for medical negligence.

We strongly object to the proposal to repeal Section 2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act to take away people’s choice to use private providers where necessary for continuing care needs. This has nothing to do with the redress scheme as such and should be the subject of a much wider discussion with stakeholders and a full consultation in its own right. The redress scheme should not be contingent on restricting the choice of people and continuing care needs.

We are disappointed that there is no mention in the consultation document about how patients would be empowered in the process. As essential component to a fairer redress scheme is access to specialist independent medico-legal advice.

The independence of the redress scheme will be crucial for public confidence and the success of the scheme. We do not believe basing it with the Central Legal Office is appropriate.

Lastly the changes, if they are to reap their potential to be a radical improvement in compensating people fairly and learning lessons to improve patient safety, will require a large investment in personnel and appropriate skills and expertise, and a change in culture. This challenge should not be underestimated.

We look forward to working with Scottish Government and others to improve the proposals in the interest of fairness and patient safety.

See AvMA’s response to the consultation here.