The government is launching a consultation to reduce, what they say are, disproportionate legal fees for lower value clinical negligence claims.
- The Government proposes new cap to ensure legal costs for lower value clinical negligence cases are proportionate and fair
- Patients will be prioritised with a new streamlined process to secure faster resolutions
- Government says the proposals could save the NHS half a billion pounds over the next ten years
A Harrogate solicitor has said that they see many claims against hospitals that are dragged out by the hospital, and that costs wouldn’t be what they become what they do if they apologized when the negligence occurred, and settled the claim in an appropriate way.
Georgina Parkin is the Managing Director, of Truth Legal, the largest personal injury and clinical negligence firm in Harrogate, and one of the top firms in the country.
Georgina Parkin said:
Caps to legal costs in relation to clinical negligence claims are likely to result in limiting access to justice for many potential claimants, as law firms may be more reluctant to take lower value claims on.
There is already a high bar to overcome in order to successfully sue a hospital. This approach from the Government is disappointing, particularly when viewed with other recent reforms to try and limit the number of personal injury claims pursued, such as the Whiplash reforms which came in to force in May 2021.
In many instances legal costs are increased by the NHS’s solicitors defending a matter for a period of months or years, which later settles, as it was always going to do.
The plans would only affect the legal costs that people making claims and their lawyers can recover following a successful claim, not the amount of compensation that patients would receive.
There is currently no limit on the legal costs that can be claimed by lawyers. It means these costs are, on average, double the compensation received by patients for lower value claims.
Minister for Patient Safety Maria Caulfield said:
I’m committed to making the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world. When harm does occur, it’s essential the NHS learns from what went wrong, and people who have been negligently harmed are entitled to claim compensation.
Unfortunately, we are seeing some law firms profiting at the NHS’ expense through legal costs that far outweigh the actual compensation awarded to patients. This diverts resources from the NHS frontline as staff work hard to tackle the COVID-19 backlogs.
Our proposals will cap legal costs for lower value claims to ensure they are fair and proportionate, and ensure patients’ claims are resolved as swiftly as possible without reducing the compensation they deserve.
The government is also consulting on a new streamlined process to ensure claims are processed more quickly, ensuring faster resolution and reducing the need to go to court.
This includes assigning claims to two tracks according to their complexity and including two resolution stages within the process to encourage agreement and minimise delay, cost and distress, including a stocktake meeting between parties and a neutral evaluation by a barrister.