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NHS paid massive £1.63bn in damages to claimants in last year

More than £1.63bn has been paid in damages from the NHS to claimants in 2017-18, with more increases in the future, new information has revealed.

According to the NHS Resolution annual report, the litigation payouts amounted to an increase of a massive £550m from last year, largely due to a change in the personal injury discount rate – which accounted for more than £400m.

In February chancellor Phillip Hammond announced the change, which “affects the amount of lump sum damages settlements for claims involving personal injury, as it is used to convert the element of damages related to future losses (for cost of care, for example) into a present value,” the report said.

The report notes, however, that there has been a minor reduction in the number in new clinical negligence claims, as well as a reduction in claimant legal costs by £31.8m.

The greatest number of claims received across all clinical negligence schemes relate to the emergency medicine speciality (13%) and orthopaedic surgery (12%).

In 2017-18 NHS England received 1,395 new casualty/A&E claims, an increase of 88 claims on the previous year. Over the same period, 1,281 new orthopaedic surgery claims were received.

Helen Vernon, NHS Resolution chief executive said: “The cost of clinical negligence is at all-time high.

“The total provisions for all of our indemnity schemes continue to rise from £65bn last year to £77bn as of 31 March 2018 which brings a renewed urgency to efforts across government to tackle the drivers of that cost.”

The majority of claims received (69.6%) were resolved without formal court proceedings and, in these early stages, more claims are resolved without payment of damages than with them.

Just under one-third of claims end up in litigation, with less than 1% going to a full trial (where most end in judgment in favour of the NHS).

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