Rise in clinical negligence claims against GPs

The number of clinical negligence claims against GPs rose by 16.4% in 2015, according to the MDDUS.

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny
MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny

The medical defence organisation revealed that the number of claims for clinical negligence against its members across the UK rose by 22% in 2015 compared with the figures for 2014. There was a 20.6% increase in claims against its hospital doctor members.

The MDDUS said the rising cost of indemnity for GPs was linked to the increase in claims and called on the government to push through plans to cut legal costs in clinical negligence cases as soon as possible.

Cap on legal costs

Last year the DH announced plans to impose a £100,000 cap on clinical negligence legal fees, but this has yet to be implemented.

Mr Kenny has written to health minister Lord Prior of Brampton saying that the absence of controls on legal costs in negligence cases was ‘a key driver’ of increasing indemnity costs.

Lord Prior of Brampton is leading on the next steps following the recent GP Indemnity Review, which lead to NHS England providing £60m of funding over two years to offset the cost of rising GP indemnity.

In the letter Mr Kenny said: ‘The scope for savings for both medical defence organisations and the NHSLA are considerable, especially for lower value claims. We all have many examples of where the amount paid in legal costs is significantly greater than the compensation payments made to the patient.

‘It is for that reason that the idea of a cap to overcome these perverse incentives of the current system is so attractive. Not only will it ensure far tighter management of costs at the level of the individual case, but it will have the right incentive effects in ensuring that only the strongest cases are selected and prepared in the most cost-effective manner.'

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