Clinical negligence experts from Leigh Day have said that the NHS should focus on reducing the number of errors and improving training for staff, rather than cutting compensation to victims, following a new report. 

The Medical Protection Society’s report is urging for reform to cut clinical negligence compensation and costs and claims that compensation costs risk becoming unsustainable. The Medical Protection Society (MPS) is an organisation which represents and indemnifies doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals.

The report sets out a number of recommendations including using the national average weekly earnings rather than a victim’s actual weekly earnings to calculate damages and capping costs and reducing expert fees by capping fees or limiting the number of experts per case.

Nicola Wainwright, clinical negligence partner at Leigh Day said:

“The MPS's proposals seem to be all about saving them money. None of their proposed changes refer to improving the care their members provide to patients, or indeed refer to patient safety or quality of care at all.

“It must not be forgotten that the patients who are awarded high levels of compensation and legal costs have proved that the care they received was incompetent and have suffered severe, life changing injuries from which they will never recover.

“Any organisation associated with healthcare in this country should be focussing their energies on patient safety and I find it extremely disappointing that yet again instead of doing that the MPS are diverting attention away from the negligence that has prompted the need for compensation.

“According to the Each Baby Counts report published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists just this week each year between 500 and 800 babies die or are left with severe brain injury in the UK because of errors during labour. Those statistics and others like them are the real outrage here.”

Suzanne White, who is also a clinical negligence partner at Leigh Day added:

“Instead of looking for ways to cut costs and reduce payments to those who have suffered medical negligence the NHS should be focusing on why the negligence occurred and how they can prevent such mistakes from happening.

“I see the same mistakes over and over again in my work and these can have a profound and lasting effect of patients’ lives.

“Appropriate compensation should be given to any patient that has suffered an injury because of medical negligence, regardless of earnings.

“The cases we deal with can be very complex and the use of high quality medical experts is crucial in ensuring that all the necessary evidence is provided to the courts for the patient’s claim to be properly assessed. If a patient has suffered a number of different medical consequences as a result of negligence they may need to be assessed by a number of different experts relating specific conditions.”