This week the National Audit Office (NAO) has advised the government that, following a nine month review, they must make changes to the way in which clinical negligence claims are dealt with, the amount of costs payable and most importantly to clients the amount of compensation paid in the higher value claims.
What does not seem to be in the mind of those reviewing the rising cost of clinical negligence claims is that those who receive the higher compensation awards, are those who have been impacted so greatly by the negligence they have experienced.
A current client of mine has suffered from negligence of a hospital in treating his sepsis and as a result had to have his dominant arm amputated above the elbow and has also lost his sight. His claim must now consist of all the associated losses as well as money towards adaptations. He is a young, married father of two. He will never see his daughters walk down the aisle or see his grandchildren. No amount of compensation can make up for this loss. He is a prisoner in his own home, bumping into things, unable to be left alone in case he needs to go upstairs to the bathroom as he has fallen down the stairs several times.
If only these people who wish to reduce the amount of compensation could experience the devastation a clinical negligence can have on not only the victim but the family and friends of that person. Even spending time with some of the most injured would may them reconsider this proposal.
Then there are the fees involved in pursuing the claim on behalf of a client. Do Solicitors claim too much? I would say yes some do, but not those of us who are part of or run smaller firms, because to us our clients are so imperative to our livelihood that we are on call 24/7, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Our clients have our mobile numbers and we take their call no matter what time of day or night it is. We are not just solicitors to our clients, we are sounding boards, we are counsellors, we are the ones that the clients shout at when they are having a bad day, but we take it all in our stride because we need those clients as much as they need us. We form a bond with them and their families. We are not large factory firms whose clients just have case reference numbers and are not easily known by their name.
Would the above client of mine say I was paid too much, I doubt it. I think he would say that I have saved him, many times, from himself as would most of the other clients I have.
Would they like to see their compensation slashed by a suit in a nice office who has no financial worries and all their limbs and senses working properly, someone who has never experienced what they have or doesn’t even know someone who has, no I doubt it.
So what is the cost of clinical negligence? Well NHS Resolution, the company who provides the insurance to the NHS, states that it is £1.6bn a year and increasing each year.
But if we look at the time in which it takes for us to get a response from the NHS Resolution regarding a claim, how many are denied at the outset but settled months sometimes years later, then surely these costs are what is adding to the problem. On average in 2010/2011 it took 300 days to resolve a claim for medical negligence. It took 428 days last year. Why the increase if those responsible are looking to save money?
Would it not be more cost effective to simple admit the mistake that has been made from the outset and get the matter resolved thereby saving everyone’s time and costing less. Or this option too simplistic?
Often the more simple the answer to the problem the less likely people are too accept it, as it is seen as too simplistic.
If you or anyone you know has suffered from a medical negligence then please contact us for a free, no obligation, discussion about your claim.