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Legal costs for NHS negligence claims may be capped

Lawyers’ fees for clinical negligence claims against the NHS could be capped under proposals being considered by ministers.

Launching a consultation, the government said “tackling increasing and disproportionate legal fees” for cases worth less than £25,000 would protect NHS funding.

The Department of Health said claimants’ legal costs for “lower value claims” were “currently more than four times higher on average” than the NHS’s legal costs in defending the claims. It cited a case in which lawyers claimed £72,000 in legal costs when the patient was awarded £3,000.

Patient Safety Minister 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.”

A spokesman for Thompson’s Solicitors, which acts for patients in such claims, told iNews: “Costs already have to be reasonable, proportionate and necessary in order to be recoverable. The answer is for the NHS to admit fault quicker and not cause cases to drag on for years."

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Source: iNews, 31 January 2022


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