Response to MDU Comments

Dr Christine Tomkins, chief executive of the Medical Defence Union (MDU) recently said that ‘urgent legal reform’ is needed to combat rising clinical negligence compensation payouts which she attributes to a ‘hostile legal climate’.

The MDU are campaigning for change and in particular, no compensation to fund future care on a private basis, reforming the personal injury discount rate and fixing claimant’s legal fees.

The latter is despite claimants’ legal fees falling by 6.4% and in the same period, the defendants’ costs increasing by 2.5%.

Reduce litigation

As a claimant solicitor I strongly feel that the focus needs to be on the route of the problem ie reducing the incidence of harm and therefore the number of clinical negligence claims that arise in the first place. This would reduce the amount of litigation and associated costs.

The focus must be on the NHS and most importantly, increasing the funding to it, to ensure quality care is provided across the country to all users.

Slower than historic trend

Sadly, NHS funding growth is much slower than the historic long term trend, despite rising demand, an ageing population and rising costs linked to medical and technological advancements.

As well as ensuring necessary investment and funding, NHS England has identified substantial opportunities to cut waste and increase efficiency in the NHS. The savings made from cutting waste can then be reinvested in new treatments and better care.

No action being taken

Finally, a phrase often thrown around too loosely, ‘learning from mistakes’. Unfortunately, we see similar mistakes from the same hospitals time and time again. Action plans arising from incidents repeatedly have the same actions, but seemingly with no action having been taken. The importance of learning from mistakes cannot be diminished. Mistakes must be embraced and analysed rather than justified in order to move forward constructively and prevent such mistakes happening again.

I therefore urge the government to act before the NHS becomes unsustainable. We are extremely privileged to have such a system and it is something we must fight to protect.