More than a year after publication of its consultation on fixing costs for clinical negligence claims, the Government finally issued a response today (Thursday).
There was very little in the report which had not been said before, from Lord Justice Jackson’s views on fixed costs for clinical negligence claims, to the cross-Government group set up to look at reducing claims costs for the NHS. As always, APIL’s response focussed on the needs of patients.
“We have advised the Government that there is scope to streamline the procedures and cost involved in lower NHS value claims, but that is only part of the story,” said APIL president Brett Dixon.
“So-called NHS ‘never events’ – injuries which are serious and largely preventable – have stayed at the same level in the past two years,” he went on. And, drawing on information gained from a request under the Freedom of Information Act, he said: “Analysis of information provided by NHS Resolution… shows that failure of maternity care represented a quarter of the damages paid out to injured patients in 2016/17. Failure in maternity care has been identified for years as a major problem for the NHS yet little seems to have changed.
“The urge to streamline costs and procedures must go hand in hand with a real, systemic, consistent reduction in avoidable injury,” he said. “Only then will the NHS become more efficient, and only then will we see an end to the needless suffering of patients.”
Read the Department of Health and Social Care’s paper here.
Rumours that an increase in the small claims limit and new whiplash tariffs would be implemented by April 2019 were confirmed by the Ministry of Justice (the MoJ) earlier this week.
Members of the steering group set up by the MoJ to consider how the reforms might work were also told that the small claims limit would only increase for RTA claims in the first instance. A decision was also taken at ministerial level to allow the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to fund a new IT gateway to allow litigants in person access to the system.
“Ministers have at least taken on board our arguments about the importance of introducing any changes in stages and not leaping ahead to include employers’ liability and public liability claims,” said APIL president Brett Dixon.
“That the reforms will go ahead at all is, of course, unwelcome news to injured people, but APIL will use its seat at the table to help to safeguard access to justice for injured people as far as possible. There is still a lot of work to do in the next 14 months.”
The news came as a report from the House of Commons Justice Select Committee’s inquiry into the small claims limit is still awaited.
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