Over 10,000 clinical negligence claims received by NHS in 2018/19

A new report has revealed that the NHS received more than 10,000 clinical negligence claims in 2018 to 2019. This highlights the rise in the number of claims being made against the organisation.

Here, we’ll look at what this recent report revealed and why there is currently a rise in the cost of negligence claims.

How do recent figures compare?

According to the report, in the year 2018-2019, there were a total of 10,678 claims made against the NHS. In the previous year, there were 10,673 claims made against the organisation. This shows very limited increase of just five additional claims.

When you compare these figures to the rise in claims being made prior to 2017-2018, you’ll see it is starting to slow down. This is said to be thanks to changes made within funding arrangements within the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2010. Increased activity within the NHS is also said to be partly responsible for the drop in claims.

How much is being paid out?

While the number of claims being made is starting to slow year upon year, the amount being paid out by the NHS is actually increasing. In 2017 to 2018, £1.228 million was paid out to claimants for damages incurred. In 2018-2019, this rose to £1.393 million.

In total, it is estimated that the costs have increased by a staggering £132.4 million, or 5.9%. Legal costs on the other hand, have seen a reduction in the past year. There was a 5%, or £20 million drop in the number of claimant legal costs. However, defence costs have risen due to a focus on early investigation activity.

The areas experiencing the most claims

Interestingly, some areas of the NHS are experiencing more claims than others. Most claims fell under the “other” category, though 13% involved emergency medicine and 12% on orthopaedic surgery.

The value of claims also varied between specialities. Although Obstetrics made up just 10% of claims, the value of the claims made up 50% of the entire amount paid out to claimants. Other reported claims on the other hand, made up just 9% of pay outs despite seeing the most amount of claims.

Increased engagement and reduced legal costs

While medical negligence claims are still increasing slowly, these latest figures do show some promise. Steps are being made to combat the high number of claims and compensation being paid out for avoidable errors.  

The NHS Resolution team state that increased engagement and reduced legal costs are proving particularly promising. There is a gradual increase in the number of claims being settled out of court. A focus on early resolution is helping to eliminate court costs, while also helping claimants to get the justice they receive quickly.

It is estimated that the number of claims being mediated, outnumber those going to court by a staggering 6 to 1. Not only does mediation and early resolution lower legal costs, but it also helps to make the process much less stressful for claimants.

Overall, while there are still a lot medical negligence claims being made against the NHS, the number is starting to become steadier. The cost of claims has increased over the past year, with improvements particularly needed in the Obstetrics sector which saw the highest pay-outs.

Image from Fshok!