latest health care news


Cost of NHS clinical negligence could fund 8 million MRI scans

The clinical negligence expenditure by the NHS over one year could have funded over eight million MRI scans.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) said the amount paid in damages and legal costs, which topped £1bn in 2014-15, could have also been used for 73,000 weight loss operations for obese patients or 61,000 liver transplants.

A report published by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) on Friday (17 July) showed that more than £774m was spent in damages paid to patients, with over £395m used just for legal costs for claimants and lawyers.

NHSLA chair Ian Dilks said in his foreword to the new report: “Last year we paid over £1.1bn to patients who suffered harm and their legal representatives, this coming year it will be [roughly] £1.4bn and with accumulated provisions in our balance sheet of over £28bn further significant increases are already in the pipeline. Currently over a third of what we spend each year is received by the legal profession and, as later pages explain, most of this is paid to claimants’ lawyers. One of our priorities for the year ahead is to therefore work with policy makers, other NHS bodies, clinicians and our scheme members to inform the debate on what might be done to reduce the financial burden on the NHS and increase the availability of scarce resources to the NHS and its patients.”

The MDU calculated that the figure for total liabilities is likely to double within seven years, having already more than doubled since 2009, when the total costs for liabilities was just over £13bn.

233 graph

Dr Michael Devlin, MDU head of professional standards and liaison, said: “The cost of care is the main reason for the staggering negligence bill. The money paid is no reflection on clinical standards, which remain high, but it reflects the unsustainable cost of private sector health and social care packages.

“We have to stop money haemorrhaging out of the NHS in compensation awards. Today’s figures only accentuate the need for a complete rethink of personal injury law.

“Patients harmed as a result of medical negligence must be compensated so they can be properly cared for. But the increases we are seeing in clinical negligence claims inflation mean compensation awards will become unaffordable. Legal reform cannot come soon enough, especially when the health service faces such tremendous financial pressures.”

In June, the Department of Health announced intentions to impose a cap on the fees lawyers can claim in medical negligence cases against the NHS.

This would save it up to £80m by fixing fees a lawyer can charge for claims of up to £100,000.

Health minister Ben Gummer MP said the proposals would reduce legal costs that reached £259m in 2013-14 – still considerably less than last year’s bill.

He said: “As it stands, the costs of clinical negligence claims can be very high. Much of this is due to some lawyers using patient claims to load grossly excessive costs onto the NHS and can charge far more than the patient receives in compensation.”


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News


NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >


Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

07/12/2019Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

Mike Farrar Chairperson of Swim England Would you talk us through... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

Unappreciated Qualities of Leadership: Hope

17/02/2020Unappreciated Qualities of Leadership: Hope

Independent consultant and strategic advisor Dean Royles continues his series on The Unappreciated Qualities of Leadership. You can find links to his previous pieces here. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >