Health Policy

30.01.18

NHS to stop advertising legal firms offering health litigation services

NHS hospitals will no longer provide office or advertising space for companies who encourage patients or their families to take the NHS to court, according to new rules.

The changes come following a consultation, and have been introduced through changes to the NHS Standard Contact, which NHS trusts and foundation trusts operate under.

The new rules, which will prohibit law firms or claims management companies who encourage litigation against the NHS from entering into or renewing agreements with NHS hospitals, in an effort to prevent firms approaching patients or families in hospitals in an attempt to “drum up business.”

According to NHS England, the NHS spent £1.7bn on clinical negligence claims in 2016-17, with legal costs accounting for 36% of the total bill.

An NHS England spokesperson explained: “Money spent defending speculative legal claims is money hospitals can’t then spend on looking after patients.

“That’s why legal firms who pursue the NHS should not advertise in or operate from our hospitals.”

They continued: “From February, trusts are now prohibited from entering or renewing agreements with firms who want to sue them.”

NHS England first indicated its intention to stop law firms from operating within NHS hospitals in March 2017.

The spokesperson explained that the already traumatic experience of being in hospital can be made worse by lawyers “soliciting patients or their families for business,” which NHS England is also calling on trusts to make efforts to stop.

The ban, which will come into force from 1 February 2018, will not affect services such as law firms who run programmes in major trauma centres, providing services for patients who have been through life changing events.

Top Image: Andrey Popov

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