RCoA response to DH fixed recoverable costs for clinical negligence claims

The Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Association of Anaesthetist of Great Britain and Ireland have jointly responded to the consultation from the Department of Health on the issue of Introducing Fixed Recoverable Costs in Lower Value Clinical Negligence Claims.

The proposals aim to: “improve patient care by encouraging learning across all healthcare organisations. Where litigation is needed, the process will be streamlined so that the injured person and their family reach a resolution more quickly, confident that change will occur, and that harm will not happen to others.”

We believe that it is unlikely that these proposals will achieve these stated aims and have provided the following comments in our response:

  • the civil litigation process for clinical negligence in England and Wales is already internationally regarded as one of the quickest and most efficient and it is unlikely that any further streamlining can be achieved by these proposals
  • we believe the level of proposed fixed recoverable costs will limit the number and quality of lawyers and experts willing to undertake the work. This will reduce access to justice for patients harmed by doctors practicing below an acceptable standard of care
  • just because a claim is of low value does not make it of low complexity. A low value claim might have considerably greater implications for overall patient safety than one of much higher value in terms of lessons learned from the incident
  • what is required is the creation of a formal and mandatory process that feeds the lessons learned from medicolegal cases into NHS patient safety processes
  • in the field of anaesthesia, evidence suggests that the large majority of claims are currently in excess of £25,000. It is therefore unlikely that the proposed changes will have significant impact on claimant costs for negligence claims relating to anaesthesia services.

The full response can be viewed here...>



05 May 2017

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