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Safety fears as NHS medical negligence claims soar

Almost 75 years since its foundation, the NHS is struggling with delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the “greatest workforce crisis” in its history.

A report from MPs on the health committee this week showed 105,000 vacancies for doctors, nurses and midwives, as thousands quit owing to burnout, bullying, pension rules and low pay.

Jeremy Hunt, the committee’s chairman, said that the “persistent understaffing in the NHS poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety”. Lawyers warned that the crisis risked increasing the number of negligence claims.

Spending on claims by NHS Resolution rose to £2.5 billion in 2021-22 compared with £2.3 billion in the previous year, according to its annual report published last week. The bill increased despite initiatives to cut the number of cases going to court and foster greater collaboration with claimant lawyers.

Claimant lawyers welcomed NHS Resolution’s more collaborative approach and desire to resolve cases sooner. They argued, however, that the defensive culture remained and suggested there should be a greater focus on patient safety and learning from mistakes.

John McQuater, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said that NHS Resolution’s denials and delays meant that injured patients had to turn to lawyers to find answers. He said that earlier investigation into patient safety incidents and earlier admissions of liability by NHS trusts would speed up the system, cutting costs and human misery.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Times, 28 July 2022


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