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Medical Negligence
Medical Negligence Compensation Culture

Is There A Medical Negligence Compensation Culture?

One of the reservations prospective medical negligence claim clients have when they ring to discuss whether or not to make a claim is about the so called "Compensation Culture". This is a real concern for some of our clients as they feel (and we agree) that the NHS is a valuable institution and they are loathe to make a claim on its' already overstretched resources. They worry that by making a claim they might cause harm to the National Health Service (NHS). We have prepared this article to try and provide you with a balanced view if this subject is of concern for you.

So, why would you sue the NHS? Our view is that there are other reasons for claiming against the NHS other than the obvious one of compensation. These include:

  1. Sometimes claiming provides answers. We often receive enquiries from people who are confused or concerned about the treatment they have received. They have asked questions and are not happy with the answers they have received or they have not received any answers at all. We can help with this process whether by writing a letter of claim to the Trust or by obtaining expert evidence to explain what happened.
  2. Sometimes we can obtain prompt treatment to help remedy the outcome of treatment which has been negligent. This can be arranged privately or through negotiation with the responsible Trust.
  3. We know that the NHS looks carefully at the outcome of claims that are made against it. The NHSLA, which is the authority which deals with litigation for the NHS, pools all of this information about all claims made and uses it to assess problem areas. This means that if there are trends of certain types of claims, the NHS can take action to address these and prevent further people from going through the same experience.

From this assessment they can form a picture of recurring problems at individual hospitals such as problems with infection control procedures or other procedures.

Risk Management is an important role for the NHSLA, who keep a record of the risk profile for each Trust. If one Trust receives more claims than others, then this may well be reflected in the premium they pay into the risk pool. This is likely to lead to the National Health Trust making improvements to prevent future problems and therefore also reduce the premium payable the following year.

As of February 2010 the NHSLA has introduced a new risk management initiative the aim of which is to make sure that Trusts learn from their own claims history.

The benefits of making a claim are therefore wider than simply compensation and may help to make sure that Trusts learn from their mistakes and that other patients are spared the consequences of poor practice.

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