Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill
Lord Clement-Jones (Liberal Democrat)
The amendment is similar to the one that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, would have moved. It will not have escaped the Minister's notice that we on these Benches have tabled a number of different amendments at different stages that are in the nature of probing amendments, to test how limited the provisions are.
The purport of this amendment is to enable compensation or ex gratia payments to be made to an upper value which would be determined by regulations in respect of lesser injuries caused as a result of avoidable mistakes. This would remove the need for people to take legal action on a smaller scale, the costs of which usually exceed any award made. I am sure the Minister is aware of some of the rather horrifying statistics about the cost of some smaller claims.
At present there is an inconsistent approach dependent largely on the personality of the complainant and/or the chief executive of the trust concerned regarding whether ex gratia payments will be considered. Some complainants are told that there is no possibility of this while others are successful in being offered a payment.
An expert group convened by the Scottish Executive recently recommended bringing ex gratia payments formally into the application of the NHS complaints procedure there. In England the Clinical Disputes Forum recommended that compensation should be available through the NHS complaints procedure. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say in that respect. I beg to move.