Compensation awards paid to victims of medical negligence have increased by 13.5% to just shy of £1.4 billion, with the majority of these payments awarded to those with  injuries of the utmost severity, NHS Resolution's annual report for 2018/19 reveals. https://resolution.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/NHS-Resolution-Annual-Report-2018-19.pdf

In contrast, legal costs incurred by lawyers acting for victims of medical negligence have dropped by 5.2% to just over £442 million.

Helen Vernon, Chief Executive for NHS Resolution, indicated that the organisation has undergone a ‘culture change’ in how it handles claims, demonstrated by the number of mediations increasing by 110% to 380. “…we have seen a demonstrable increase in the level of interest from lawyers on both sides… mediation [is] just one of the tools at our disposal, as is picking up the phone or holding a round-table meeting. All are valuable and all have a place when stacked up against the alternative of a litigated claim…

However, the number of claims involving injuries of utmost severity – including babies born with brain damage – remains high at 10,678 per year. Of those, 746 new claims involving obstetric brain injury were registered with NHS Resolution via its’ Early Notification scheme between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. Whilst this may only represent 0.12% of all births in England, it is these cases which are often so costly to the NHS, as these cases often involve multi-million pound settlements to provide families with lifetime care and assistance.

Adam Hodson, a clinical negligence lawyer with Sydney Mitchell, said: “NHS Resolution has been on a campaign to reduce the “claimant spend” to the NHS, and has regularly cited claimants’ legal costs as the main problem. However, the fact is that their annual report shows that costs have fallen, yet the number of claims still remain worryingly high. If the NHS was truly concerned with the amount of money paid out to victims of clinical negligence, they should ensure that lessons are learned from avoidable mistakes. Less mistakes mean less injured patients, which means less claims and less money lost to the NHS”.

For help and advice on medical negligence matters please contact Adam Hodson on 0808 166 8827 or email a.hodson@sydneymitchell.co.uk

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