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NHS Negligence Compensation

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Parliament is conflicted about what to do about the £8 million bill the government paid for clinical negligence in 2004. Just eight years earlier the tab for healthcare mishap compensation stood at £3.5 million.

The Scottish National Party deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, advocates for a no fault system like the one currently be considered in England and she was reported by the BBC as saying, "That would be a far better way of dealing with accidents and mistakes in the NHS than paying lawyers vast amounts of money to defend cases in court". The legal bill for theses negligence cases for the last twelve months stood at £1.8 million.

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Government says that they have investigated a no fault system and have found that it will not work in Scotland. Health spokeswoman Dr Nanette Milne told the BBC that, "Far from saving money it is likely to lead to far more compensation claims, would still involve long arguments about levels of compensation and would merely deal with the consequences rather than the causes of mistakes and negligence".

According to the Expert Group report on the Scottish NHS and clinical negligence claims against it, the Scottish NHS receives about 500 claims per year. 70% of them are dismissed or are abandoned by the claimant. 150 cases result in compensation. Of those 150, 40% receive payouts of less than £5000, 17% of the cases receive payouts of between £5000-£10,000. At the upper end, 5% of the people awarded compensation receive 65% of the total budget for compensation. Of the same 150 cases, 60 will involve legal proceedings but only 10 will actually be heard in court. 56% of cases which end up with compensation are settled within three years. 17% of cases ending in compensation take more than 5 years and these are usually birth related medical negligence claims.

The numbers of claims made against Scottish NHS personnel is proportionately lower than those made against the English NHS. Reasons for this difference could include the fact that all of the claims in Scotland go through the Central Legal Office (CLO) that is highly skilled and experienced in dealing with such cases. Other reasons could be that the patient staff ratio in Scotland is different than in England, the access to legal aid in Scotland is more limited than England and there are less solicitors specialising in personal injury cases.


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