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Monday 18 December 2017
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Legal reforms needed beyond GP indemnity scheme to address clinical negligence costs, says MP

State-backed GP indemnity scheme does not address rising clinical negligence costs

Clinical negligence costs are rising and this problem has to be addressed, said MP Alex Chalk at the Medical Protection Society (MPS) event in London on negligence fees.

Mr Chalk approved the Government’s decision to introduce a state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs in England  from April 2019 - but said that people who experienced clinical negligence need to receive the right compensation that the NHS can afford.

Since 2010/11, the NHS clinical negligence spending bill registered an increase of 12% per year, touching £1.7bn spent on clinical negligence claims in 2016/17.

If this trend continues, the NHS could be paying £2.6bn a year by 2021/22, as the MPS stated in its report, The Rising Costs of Clinical Negligence: Who pays the Price.

Last June, MPS launched a campaign – called Striking a Balance – that proposed some legal reforms to allow the NHS to reduce compensation costs deriving from clinical negligence, while still delivering a reasonable amount of money to the plaintiff.

The proposed changed included:

·         The introduction of a limit on future care costs based on the realities of providing home based care;

·         The introduction of fixed recoverable costs to stop lawyers charging disproportionate legal fees;

·         A 10 year limit between the date of an incident and when a claim can be made.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Chalk said: ‘I welcome the Government’s announcement on a state-backed indemnity scheme.

‘We still, however, need to tackle the underlying issue of rising clinical negligence costs. Those who suffer as a result of clinical negligence must be properly compensated and we need to safeguard access to justice, but we must also consider what society and the NHS can afford. 

‘I agree with MPS that legal reform to strike this important balance should be considered and I urge the Government to continue working with MPS to explore this further.’

Referring to the new GP indemnity scheme, chief executive at MPS Simon Kayll, said that it will not address the problem related to rising clinical negligence costs.

‘The cost of claims will always need to be paid for, and will continue to increase unless the root of the issue is tackled, through legal reform,’ said Mr Kayll.

Last month, Management in Practice reported about a winter indemnity scheme to help GPs cope with pressures deriving from doing out-of-hours care services.