NHS: Legal Costs

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of paying NHS lawyers regardless of case outcome on (a) incentivising deny-delay-defend behaviour, (b) prolonging indefensible cases and (c) rewarding poor assessment of case merits prior to litigation.

Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to pay NHS lawyers by (a) fixed fees, (b) capped fees and (c) conditional fees according to the success of the defence; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

If the National Health Service gets something wrong and patients are harmed, it is quite right that the NHS is held to account. However, we are concerned about the rising cost associated with clinical negligence and is something we are taking very seriously.

NHS Resolution has a responsibility to settle justified claims fairly and promptly and defend unjustified claims to secure NHS resources. In doing so, NHS Resolution is committed to the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including increasing its use of mediation, and consequently, the percentage of claims moving into formal litigation is the lowest it has ever been. In 2018/19, 70.7% of the 15,655 claims settled, both clinical and non-clinical negligence, were resolved with the use of ADR, without the cases going into formal court proceedings and, in these early stages, more cases are resolved without the payment of damages than with payment of damages.

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