A rush to submit claims prior to the implementation of the Jackson reforms in April last year, led to an increase in claims against doctors, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).
In its annual report, the MDU has revealed that claims against its doctor members rose by over 20%, while claims against dentists went up by almost 10% during 2013. The union says that the increase is due to lawyers trying to submit claims under the pre-Jackson fee arrangements, which expired on 1 April.
Dr Christine Tomkins, the MDU’s chief executive said that 2013 was the busiest year in the union’s 128-year history.
“We answered over 33,000 calls from members to our 24-hour advice line and opened a record number of new claims files,” she said.
“A major factor in the increasing demand for our services was the surge we saw in the number of new claims against our members. We fully support the legal costs reforms that came in to effect in April 2013, but in the short term we have seen claimant’s solicitors rushing to notify claims under the old arrangements, prolonging the disproportionately high costs the legal changes are intended to address.”
She said that the MDU was hopeful that the reforms set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act would lead to a long-term reduction in the large sums paid to claimant’s lawyers.
“There is some evidence that this is starting to happen with the numbers of claims being notified against our dental members slowing slightly towards the end of 2013. We hope this trend will continue and spread to medical claims,” she added.