Costs reforms "unfair" to injured patients

Costs reforms

Lawyers vehemently oppose the inclusion of vulnerable patients and people who have died through NHS failures in a new streamlined regime for clinical negligence compensation claims.

In its response to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) consultation on a fixed process for lower value claims, with legal costs for each stage, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) set out some grave reservations.

“Subjecting vulnerable injured patients, who lack the capacity to bring their own claims, to this pared down process is unfair and inconsistent,” said APIL executive committee member Suzanne Trask.

“Protected parties are excluded from other low value schemes, such as for road traffic collisions and workplace injuries, because of the complexity of their cases. Additional work is required to help people without the capacity to manage their own claims and it is extremely difficult to anticipate the amount of extra time and work required,” Ms Trask explained.

“And cases where patients have died at the hands of the NHS certainly need more time and greater sensitivity than is afforded by this scheme”.

APIL has also criticised the proposed limits on costs available to pay for representation for injured patients under the new system, and the ethos behind the changes.

“In the main, a streamlined two track approach to clinical negligence cases with a value of up to £25,000 has merit. But the costs have been proposed by the defendants, in a breathtaking display of self-interest, putting unfair restrictions on patients, bereaved families, and their representatives,” said Ms Trask. “The proposed fees need to be looked at again, urgently.”

“In its obsession with the financial cost of clinical negligence to the NHS, the Government repeatedly fails to recognise that the NHS’s negligence is the reason why patients must claim compensation for their injuries. Yet again, any effort to tackle that problem is conspicuously absent from this consultation,” she said.

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