High medical negligence claims drain NHS coffers

The National Health Service’s coffers have been drained by an increase in the volume and value of medical negligence claims, resulting in the NHS Litigation Authority has received additional funding of £185 million in order to defend the claims.

Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, has awarded additional funds to the Litigation Authority, which aids in financing the costs of legal fees and personal injury compensation cases brought against the NHS by medical negligence victims.  Mr Lansley cited a sharp rise in the number of negligence claims as impetus for the increased funding.

The NHS Litigation Authority is paying out more than three times the amount that it did nearly a decade ago, according to recently released accident claim figures. The 2000-2001 financial year saw the authority paying out £277 million, while the 2010-2011 year saw it pay out nearly £1 billion in compensation, the figures show.

One of the primary causes behind the increase was the sharp hike in the number of claims involving birth injury.  Another major contributor was the expense involved in the provision of lifetime care for children suffering birth injuries, NHS managers said.

NHS Litigation Authority’s financial director, Tom Fothergill, stated that the NHS experiences around one hundred claims brought against it involving newborn children suffering brain damageon a yearly basis.  The average payout for these claims is £6 million per child, according to Mr Fothergill.

The lion’s share of patients that the NHS treats receive excellent standards of care, according to Health Minister Lord Howe.  However, it is only right that these individuals receive compensation in the event that mistakes are made, he added.

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