Government plans to cap legal fees in clinical negligence cases

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The Department of Health has outlined plans to cap what it calls “excessive legal fees” in clinical negligence cases brought against the NHS.

Health Minister Ben Gummer has said that the Government wants to fix costs for claims worth up to £100,000 and that a formal consultation on the matter will be drawn up in the autumn. In the 2013/14 financial year, Gummer said that claimant lawyers charged the NHS Litigation Authority £259million in legal fees for clinical negligence claims. Ministers have also criticised the practice of charging large fees for low-cost cases and have highlighted on case where a lawyer charged £175,000 which resulted in £11,800 in damages.

The announcement follows other NHS cost-saving initiatives drawn up by the Government. These include controlling agency staffing rates and senior management salaries; limiting the use of management consultants; and better use of the collective bargaining power of the NHS to drive down prices for supplies.

“Safe, compassionate care is my upmost priority and to achieve this, the NHS must make sure every penny counts,” said Gummer.

“Unscrupulously, some lawyers have used patient claims to load grossly excessive costs onto the NHS and charge far more than the patient receives in compensation.

“Our One Nation approach is about being on the side of hardworking taxpayers and these financial controls will ensure money is pumped back into patient care.”

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Marek Handzel

Marek Handzel is the editor of Claims Magazine. Marek welcomes articles, letters, or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing marek.handzel@barkerbrooks.co.uk