To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria the Government use to determine whether to settle a case before the commencement of legal proceedings against the NHS; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the application of that criteria in 2016-17.
We have taken this question to relate to claims handled by NHS Resolution. NHS Resolution is responsible for managing clinical and non-clinical claims against the National Health Service. It does not deal with claims against general practitioners and dentists.
NHS Resolution has advised that before the commencement of legal proceedings, an assessment is made of whether or not there is a legal liability on the part of the NHS. The vast majority of claims are dealt with under the tort of negligence. This entails investigating both breach of duty and causation, which involves obtaining the accounts of factual witnesses, senior staff at the relevant organisation and, usually, commissioning expert evidence.
NHS Resolution aims to resolve as many claims as possible before legal proceedings are commenced. There can be many reasons why legal proceedings are issued and where this is the case, NHS Resolution settles most of these claims out of court. In 2016-17, NHS Resolution:
- Settled 67.8% of claims before the commencement of proceedings;
- Settled 31.5 % of claims after proceedings were commenced;
- Took 0.7% of cases to trial and was successful in 73% of these; and
- Resolved 5,252 clinical claims and 2,618 non clinical claims without the payment of damages.