The Government has announced that an expert group will be formed to work on introducing a new cap on the amount of costs that lawyers can recover in clinical negligence cases. The proposed cap will be applied to all cases up to £25,000 and will help to save the NHS up to £45 million a year.
Commenting, Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at the Medical Protection Society (MPS), said:
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to a fixed recoverable costs scheme for clinical negligence claims. From the £1.7bn the NHS paid out on clinical negligence costs in 2016/17, legal costs accounted for 37% of that bill. It is right that we question whether such costs are sustainable for the NHS, and whether this amount of NHS money should be spent on lawyer fees.
“The creation of an expert group will help to drive a fixed costs scheme forward, ensuring the threshold and process for clinical negligence cases is considered and implemented swiftly.
“We had hoped to see a bolder decision on the threshold with cases up to the value of £250,000 included in a scheme, however a £25,000 threshold is a positive first step – one which we hope will be reviewed and possibly increased over time.
“We also welcome the Government’s plan for a wider, cross department strategy to drive down rising clinical negligence costs. Indeed, a fixed recoverable costs scheme is one of a number of reforms that will be needed if we are to really tackle the issue. Our Striking a Balance campaign sets out the package of reforms we believe could achieve a more sustainable system.”