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NHS Negligence Claims Have Doubled Since 2009-2010

NHS Negligence Claims Have Doubled Since 2009-2010

Statistics from the NHS Litigation Authority have revealed that the number of people making clinical negligence claims against the NHS has reached unprecedented levels. The rise in litigation is increasing concerns about the strain that the health service is under.

11,945 medical negligence claims this year

The NHS Litigation Authority was established in 1995 as a Special Health Authority to deal with claims from patients who were harmed whilst undergoing treatment, as well as dealing with claims from NHS staff and visitors. In its annual figures from the last financial year, it revealed that 11,945 litigation actions were commenced against the NHS.

There has been a steadily increasing number of NHS negligence claims over recent years. While in 2009-2010, there were just 6,562 claims – almost half the most recent figure – there were 8,500 claims in 2010-2011. However, it is not just the amount of legal claims that are shown to be increasing; the statistics also showed concerning results about rising waiting times for patients. In the first week of December this year, nearly 35,400 patients were forced to wait more than four hours for treatment – 66% higher than the same period last year. Furthermore, 7,760 people were kept on a trolley for between four and 12 hours before a ward bed became available for them – a huge increase from 3,666 people who experienced the same problem in the same week in December 2013.

“Under increasing pressure”

The statistics have highlighted concerns about whether the health service is able to deal with the growing demands on its limited resources.

With an increasing number of negligence claims comes increasing costs: despite already being financially stressed, the NHS has increased its reserves for dealing with legal actions from £8.7bn in 2010, to £15.6bn in 2013-2014. Dame Barbara Hakin, the national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, admitted that the health service is “under a huge amount of pressure”. As well the continuing financial strain, she commented that the NHS is “seeing far more patients than we ever have before”.

While critics have argued that the problems faced by the NHS are political, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously commented that he believes the high number of litigation claims are an indicator of the system failing to provide an adequate level of care. While giving a speech at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, he said there must be improvements to the standards of safety and quality of care received in order to reduce avoidable costs.

Commenting on the increasing cost of litigation to the health service, Chief Executive of the Medical Defence Union, Dr Christine Tomkins, said that she believes the upward trend in litigation is unsustainable. She maintained that “patients should be compensated quickly and fairly when they have been negligently harmed” but raised concerns that “awards are escalating much faster than price and wage inflation”, adding to the increasing costs faced by the NHS.

How to obtain compensation if you have experienced negligent medical care

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you.

If you have concerns about the medical care that you have received, please contact one of our NHS negligence lawyers at IBB Solicitors. Our goal is to obtain justice for victims of the negligence by others, by securing compensation that reflects their pain and suffering, as well as related financial losses including loss of earnings, treatment costs and specialist care costs.

Please contact a member of our team on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to malcolm.underhill@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.