Opposition to fixed costs in clinical negligence growing

Published: 2 May 2017

An open letter from AvMA and 8 other patients’ charities calling on the Secretary of State for Health to reconsider proposals on imposing fixed costs in clinical negligence was published in the Daily Telegraph today, coinciding with the close of the consultation at 11.45pm on 2 May 2017.

The letter describes the proposals as “premature; ill informed; and a threat both to access to justice and patient safety”.

AvMA’s response to the consultation explains in detail why the proposals should not go ahead in their current form and recommends an inclusive review involving key stakeholders to get to the bottom of why high legal costs are being incurred and how to avoid them, rather than simply imposing fixed costs with such dangerous unintended consequences.

In a recent development, AvMA has received a report on costs in clinical negligence cases from Colin Campbell (a former costs judge at the Senior Courts Costs Office and a deputy at the Royal Courts of Justice. This report casts more doubt on the reliability of the Department of Health’s assumptions behind its proposals and points out the impact of defendant behaviour in high costs being incurred.

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:

“There is widespread concern about these proposals, which should not be allowed to go ahead. This debate should be about more than just crude and dangerous ways of saving the Department of Health money in the short term and bashing lawyers. The proposals would harm patient safety as well as deny access to justice to many deserving victims of clinical negligence. We have offered a constructive alternative way forward in a better informed way and protecting patient safety and justice.”