The latest figures from the Government’s Compensation Recovery Unit have revealed that the number of personal injury claims, including clinical negligence claims, has dropped to the lowest it’s been in a decade.
The number of clinical negligence claims had dropped by 3%, continuing the ongoing annual reduction in claims since 2013. These figures set the context for the current suggestions by medical defence organisations that the number of clinical negligence claims are too high and that wholescale reform is required.
This change comes despite the number of reported patient safety incidents being on the increase, with NHS Improvement reporting in March 2018 of an annual 4.7% increase.
This begs the question why? Claimant firms are under a responsibility both to their clients and to the NHS to ensure that claims are only pursued where there is substandard or negligent care. Perhaps we are now seeing the results of more rigorous assessments being put in place from the outside to ensure that a case’s merits are carefully considered before even being notified to the treating clinician.
Furthermore, experienced lawyers with a better understanding of the issues involved in complex treatment are pivotal in ensuring a more sustainable and responsible approach to pursuing claims.
As a firm specialising in medical negligence and serious injury ourselves, we spend an inordinate amount of time assessing enquiries and advising in the vast majority of cases that a claim is not appropriate. There is an assumption that claimants are pursuing claims regardless of the merit, and that is simply not the case. These figures support our view that the profession is already acting responsibly and that sweeping reforms to reduce the number of clinical negligence claims, as proposed by the Civil Liability Bill, are disproportionate and will damage a patient’s right to be properly and fully compensated for avoidable harms they have suffered.