NHS: Negligence

Department of Health written question – answered on 3rd November 2015.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what safeguards he plans to introduce as part of his proposed fixed-cost regime changes to the Civil Procedure Rules to ensure that changes are fair to any side in civil litigation and do not harm access to justice.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he made of the potential effect of his plans for improving patient safety and zero harm on reducing the cost of clinical negligence before taking forward proposals for a fixed-costs regime in clinical negligence.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he made of the potential effect of the (a) provisions in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on reducing costs associated with clinical negligence and (b) possibility of the NHS and NHS Litigation Authority causing unnecessary costs in clinical negligence cases before he made his decision to take forward proposals for a fixed-costs regime in clinical negligence.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department made of the potential effect on access to justice for victims of clinical negligence before it developed its proposals to introduce a fixed recoverable costs regime for clinical negligence; which other stakeholders were consulted on this matter before those proposals were developed; and what the response of those stakeholders to that consultation was.

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

We are planning to consult on the introduction of the fixed cost regime for clinical negligence claims where the damages awarded to claimants are less than £250,000. This forms part of our over-arching objective to minimise adverse incidents and provide an efficient, cost-effective approach to litigation. In doing this we are seeking to improve patient care by reducing the incidence of clinical negligence, improve customer care by ensuring the National Health Service is responsive to users; and ensure there is an appropriate and cost effective legal process in place for claimants and defendants.

In advance of this work a pre-consultation exercise was undertaken with a wide range of bodies representing the views of patients, lawyers, bar organisations, professional bodies, NHS organisations, private healthcare providers and Welsh interests. Issues raised by these organisations included: access to justice, impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; patient safety; and the avoidance of unnecessary costs in clinical negligence cases. These views will be rehearsed in the proposed consultation document and will inform decisions that are made following the consultation exercise. Respondents will have the opportunity to provide comments on the proposals, which we have been developing with the Civil Procedure Rules Committee.

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