Only 15% of legal claims against doctors succeed

Some 85% of medical negligence cases find in favour of doctors, the MDU has said.

The medical defence organisation said that both doctors and patients had to endure considerable stress and anxiety as a result of an ‘outdated and adversarial legal system’.

In its annual report for 2016, the MDU said that it was seeing far more claims than it did in 2012. The proportion of claims where the doctor’s actions were not negligent had also increased, it said.

The report revealed that only 15% of the medical negligence claims the MDU defended resulted in compensation. However, MDU chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins said that when compensation is awarded 'the size of awards are still rising unsustainably.’

‘Claims for £10m or more are no longer unusual. The recent drastic drop in the discount rate to -0.75% has made matters very much worse,' she added.

The discount rate is used to calculate final compensation amounts and the rate was reduced from  2.5% to minus 0.75 earlier this year. GPC chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned earlier this month that the government needed to tackle rising GP indemnity costs or face a huge NHS winter crisis this year.

MDU chairman Dr Peter Williams said: ‘It is abundantly clear that the numbers of claims and size of compensation awards are connected to changes in the civil justice system, rather than to doctors’ performance and professional standards.’

He said that the current situation had led to some doctors having second thoughts about taking on higher risk activities, while others had reservations about entering specialties where indemnity costs were high relative to their income.  

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