Increase In NHS Clinical Negligence Claims

There has been a 66% increase in clinical negligence claims against the NHS; the NHS Litigation Authority’s annual report published in July reveals the number of new clinical claims rose by 10.8% to 10,129 during 2012/13. The figure has increased by 66% in the past 4 years.The NHS Litigation Authority has denied these claim figures indicate increased negligence in the NHS, suggesting it is likely a combination of factors.  There is increased awareness of standards of care and access to justice in light of Staffordshire NHS scandal and other negative press.

The Jackson reforms introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Acts 2012,  made significant amendments in relation to the availability of Legal Aid Agency funding for this type of case.  2012/2013 was the last year in which this funding was more widely available for most clinical negligence claims subject to means and merit.  Since the 1st April 2013 categories of claimant that could access it were significantly reduced.

From April 2013, only those who have been injured during pregnancy, labour or the first 8 weeks of life, having suffered a neurological injury and severe disability will be eligible for funding. This has prompted a surge in claims from franchise firms attempting to lodge applications before the reforms came into force. Clinical negligence is also an area not affected by fixed fee costs, largely imposed on other areas of personal injury work, after the 31st August 2013.  I suspect that this will attract personal injury lawyers who have not previously done this work to consider running cases.

It will be interesting to draw a comparison with figures over the next few years, and I anticipate an increase in the number of personal injury lawyers, previously familiar with other areas of personal injury attempting to move into this area.

They are and will remain difficult and complex cases requiring a sensitive approach and it is important that firms handling clinical negligence cases  have experienced teams, with appropriate knowledge and expertise.  In selecting the right person I would advise a potential Claimant not to be frightened to ask questions on any issues including whether the solicitor has dealt with similar cases, the volume of clinical negligence work done and the level of experience as a team.  There is need for an ability to screen cases and distinguish between complaints and claims and recognise the strength and merit of a case, and manage expectations early on.  It requires an understanding of the law, medical issues and careful management.

If you have this type of claim, I would recommend looking for membership of specialist panels such as Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) or the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel.  This indicates a level of experience and expertise which we are proud to offer at Forbes Solicitors.

On a positive note we can all hope that what chair of the NHS Litigation Authority, Dame Joan Higgins said in response to the higher claims figure rings true and; “the NHSLA has sharpened its focus on preventing harm”.

Leonie Millard is a Partner with extensive experience in clinical negligence dealing with a varied caseload, and handling serious, high value cases.  She is an AvMA helpline Volunteer, and is always happy to discuss any potential query without charge.  She can be contacted, along with other members of the specialist team on 01254 872111.

Leonie Millard

About Leonie Millard

Leonie is a Partner within the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Department at Forbes Solicitors. Leonie’s blogs cover her specialism in clinical negligence, especially in relation to birth injuries. She also covers cases against hospital Trusts, GP's, dentists and private practices.
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One response to Increase In NHS Clinical Negligence Claims

  1. Bonallack and Bishop says:

    This is an intriguing statistic. Medical solicitors will no doubt be delighted at this news. I feel that still more can be done to bring awareness about medical negligence cases. I feel also that testimonials could become vital when selecting your solicitor as the amount of them (as you predict) goes up.

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