The Department of Health & Social Welfare (DOH) has reported that a working group will be set up  before implementing a fixed cost regime for medical negligence claims.

Concerns were raised concerning access to justice in light of the proposals to fix the costs of medical negligence claims with respondents stating that the introduction of fixed fees would make it difficult for Claimants to find a solicitor to represent them when their claim was low value and complex. This was stated to have ‘potential to disproportionally impact those from vulnerable groups’. These groups including claimants who are children, the elderly, women, ethnic minorities, the disabled and people with long term conditions.

Respondents to the consultation also raised concerns that the NHS needed to ‘admit liability sooner’ and that there was a ‘tendency not to want to admit failures’ which was driving costs factors in medical negligence claims. A recurring theme which was also identified in the Public Accounts Committee in their report concerning medical negligence costs in November 2017. Within their report they state ‘there seems to be a prevailing attitude of defensiveness in the NHS when things go wrong, and a reluctance to admit mistakes’ which was identified as a driver of medical negligence costs.

When a patient is injured through no fault of their own, it is important that they have access to justice in order to pursue compensation to put them in the position they were before the negligence. It is our view that the impact on access to justice needs to be considered when the working party is established. The next steps regarding the working party will be disclosed in ‘due course’

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If you have any questions, queries or wish to discuss any matters relating to this, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Medical Negligence Specialists today, on 01522 561020.

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