Over the past five years, the Royal College of Nursing’s legal costs, driven by high personal injury compensation payouts, have trebled to £5 million annually, new research recently found.
According to the research conducted by Nursing in Practice, medical negligence claim payouts made against practice nurse members of the RCN have rocketed by almost £2 million in 2010 alone. This is more than two times 2007’s £2.15 million legal bill, and triple the 2006 legal bill of £1.48 million, accident claim experts say.
The spiraling legal costs are chiefly due to the increasing size of negligence claims, which have rocketed alarmingly since 2006. The research found that there are some claims amounts that exceed £1 million in compensation paid.
Legal director for the RCN, Chris Cox, remarked that the College saw the first claim in the millions of pounds during the 2008-2009 year. Ever since that date, the volume of such high-value claims has been rising steadily, Mr Cox added.
The overall figures were impacted quite seriously by the 2010-2011 year, the legal director also said, as it featured the highest number of million pound-plus claims ever experienced by the RCN. Industry insiders say that the growing costs have played a role in the decision by the RCN to no longer offer indemnity insurance for its registered practical nurses in the New Year, with GP employers now having to to take responsibility – both financially and legally – for its nurses’ actions from January 2012.
More and more serious legal claims have been made against nurses this decade than in the one previous, according to Nursing in Practice.