The NHS Litigation Authority (NHS LA) has launched a mediation service as it looks to stem rising costs of litigation.
Following a public tender and successful pilot , NHS LA hopes that the new service will support injured claimants, their families and healthcare staff in working together towards resolution without the need to go to court.
Claims against the NHS have risen threefold in the last eight years. The NHS LA paid out more than £1.4 billion in medical negligence claims last year compared to £583 million in 2008.
The NHS LA has said that it used its buying power to procure the highest quality mediation services for the NHS at the lowest possible cost. The contracts have been awarded to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), Trust Mediation and Costs Alternative Dispute Resolution (CADR) for an initial period of two years.
Helen Vernon, chief executive of the NHS LA, said that the body’s plans to launch a mediation service had been well received by all those involved in the claims process within the NHS.
“Mediation is an excellent forum for dispute resolution and provides injured patients and their families with an opportunity for face-to-face explanations and apologies when things go wrong, “ she said.
She added that extending mediation within NHS LA reduced the need for unnecessary litigation.
“We have used mediation to good effect throughout our 20 year history, including in high profile cases and group actions. We will closely monitor the service to ensure we see the positive benefits we believe can result from greater uptake of this non-adversarial approach to dispute resolution.”
Graham Massie, director of CEDR, said: “The mediation of disputes with the NHS will make a positive difference for all concerned, especially patients and the families of patients, sparing them the expense and stress of going to trial when looking for the resolution of a claim.
“Having worked with the NHS in various ways over the last two decades CEDR is delighted to see the NHS LA now confirming its use of mediation and to be one of the organisations selected by them to help find settlements where there are disputes.”
Hannah Rawlins, from CADR Registrar, said: “We look forward to assisting in the streamlining of legal costs recovery, facilitating efficiency and promoting the swift and fair resolution of claims at every opportunity for all parties involved in the process.”