NHS plans will fuel culture of ‘deny and defend’
Published: 28 Jul 2017
Talking in the Telegraph today, AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh warned of the dangers of the Government’s plans to impose ‘fixed recoverable costs’ on clinical negligence claims.
The plans aim to reduce the cost of claims against the NHS by imposing a cap on the amount of legal costs lawyers can recover when they win a case for their client. Lord Jackson, who has been reviewing the Government’s plans, is expected to announce his conclusions on Monday (31 July 2017)
At first glance the plans may seem attractive. Few would shed a tear over lawyers earning less money. However, look deeper and it becomes clear that this plan is at best ill-conceived, ignores the root causes of high costs and would have serious unintended consequences.
Peter Walsh argues that the plans would hit some of the most vulnerable people in society – with stillbirths and neonatal deaths, older people’s deaths and mental health cases among those which may no longer be feasible in the future.
“The effect of imposing fixed costs on clinical negligence claims – even those below £25,000 in compensation – would be to deny access to justice to many vulnerable and deserving people in some of the most serious cases,” he said. “These proposals would incentivise a ‘deny and defend’ culture… [and] lead to massive lost opportunities to learn from mistakes.”
The Telegraph has also published an article warning that the plans pose a risk of cover-ups, particularly relating to NHS blunders which leave babies stillborn, and pointing out that Britain is ranked 33rd out of 35 in the developed world for its stillbirth rates, while the NHS is facing soaring numbers of cases where babies are left brain-damaged.