NHS Leaders Seek Government Intervention
Today we've heard from NHS leaders who are urging the government to intervene in claims process where it involves pursuing claims in negligence against the NHS in England. The commentary is directed at two issues, firstly the level of payments and secondly what they say are the spiralling costs of Claimant's solicitors.
Anyone who has been the subject of an injury where fault can be proven is entitled to be compensated. Our system requires that any person seeking compensation whether involving the NHS or otherwise has to prove that someone was at fault. Cases of clinical negligence are some of the most difficult to sustain not least because it is insufficient to prove fault in isolation given the need to show that an injury has been suffered as a consequence which would not otherwise have arisen. Experience has shown that to succeed in such claims it is necessary to demonstrate a very significant departure from the normal way of treating or operating on a patient to be successful. There will always be a range of options in terms of treatment, surgery and suchlike and if a medical expert functions within those parameters they are unlikely to be the subject of a claim but if they radically depart they may be open to being sued.
Representations made by the health leaders to the Justice Secretary urging reforms would not grab the headlines if the government was receptive to the significant need for investment in the NHS in terms of personnel and infrastructure such as to ensure good service and delivery of sound treatment. One can but surmise that it’s very much a case of “smoke and mirrors” with the NHS Trust leaders soliciting help from the government do further reduce the potential shortfalls in the NHS budget.
If you were the victim of negligent treatment then the suggestion that you should refrain from pursuing a claim or that the level of compensation to which you are entitled should be less, would be seen as foul play on the part of the government. It can only be hoped that the Ministry of Justice is not intimidated in this manner to reduce the levels of pay outs to victims of NHS negligence.
A less controversial target are those solicitors acting for patients injured by the NHS. For too long now they have been the whipping boys as far as the government and the Ministry of Justice in particular are concerned. It is probable that the details of legal costs relate to earlier years when what are called success fees also had to be met by the NHS in the event that a claim in negligence was successful.
Success fees are no longer paid by the NHS. So the reality is, assuming that the NHS get their house in order and work to reduce the incidence of claims, not only will the amounts paid reduce but also the level of costs that are paid to those who represent the individuals concerned will too.
The fact is that patients who have legitimate claims in negligence and choose to pursue those should not be at a disadvantage in not having access to solicitors who have the experience and knowledge to deal with their claims and ensure that if there is merit in their claim they are successful and properly compensated. To compromise a patient who is injured as a consequence of NHS negligence by potentially restricting their ability because of the cost of engaging a solicitor competent to deal with such cases would be wrong. They should be entitled to be properly advised and supported during the claims process by the legal profession.
If you believe that you have a claim please contact myself (Tim Nobbs) or Mark Hambling as we both undertake clinical negligence work and can offer a free initial discussion and explain the process involved and discuss funding options including a No Win No Fee arrangement.