DoH may ask GPs to disclose negligence claim details

The DoH may ask for disclosure of information about negligence claims made against doctors, according to medico-legal experts.

Photograph: JH Lancy
Photograph: JH Lancy

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) says the DoH may seek this information in future as part of the performers’ list regulations, although these have yet to be published.

The MDU warns that placing too much reliance on such information is likely to stigmatise doctors, as information about negligence claims is not a useful indicator of poor performance.

Dr Karen Roberts, MDU medico-legal adviser, said: ‘When you consider that settled claims take on average, six to eight years from the incident occurring to settlement, it is obvious that gathering data about settled claims doesn’t provide an accurate guide to a doctor’s current performance either.

‘If there is a problem, you want a reliable way of finding out as early as possible. Claims information will not help with this.’

The MDU also points out that the incidence of clinical negligence claims varies according to factors unrelated to clinical competence, such as whether a doctor happens to practise in an area where data shows that patients are more likely to bring claims, for example the north west of England, or in a specialty which sees more claims, such as obstetrics and gynaecology or any other type of surgery.

GPs might also be discouraged to take on additional activities seen as a higher risk of claims, for example fitting intrauterine contraceptive devices or performing minor surgery.

A DoH spokesman said: 'No - we are not seeking that power.'

Editor's Blog: And this week's barmy idea from the DoH is ...

  • Should the DoH be allowed details of GPs’ negligence claims?

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