Most British taxpayers are unaware that NHS claims could cost them over £1,000 each, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).
The revelation comes after the results of a ComRes survey of 2,070 adults, commissioned by the MDU, were recently published. The survey also found that only one in three Britons (35%) is aware that medical compensation payments have increased over the past three years.
When told that the estimated liabilities for known and future claims in NHS hospitals was £25.6 billion, 60% said that the figure was higher than they expected it to be. In addition, only 7% thought that taxpayers should be paying for making medical negligence compensation payments.
The MDU said that politicians and policymakers needed to recognise “the spiralling costs of compensation awards” and to take action to reform the system.
“Clinical negligence compensation awards are rising dramatically,” said Dr Christine Tomkins, the chief executive of the MDU.
“This affects us all as patients and taxpayers and we will all suffer for it if nothing is done to reform the legal system in which multi-million pound damages payments are common.”
“When we talk to people about this they are shocked to learn that damages awards in England are higher than most countries in the world right now, even many US states. Medical compensation inflation is rising 10% each year and this is far above long-term retail, house or wage inflation. Most of this money is coming from taxpayers who cannot foot the bill indefinitely, when claims inflation is outstripping society’s ability to pay.”
The MDU has said that in order to stem rising negligence costs, a section a 1948 law should be repealed, meaning that compensation must be calculated to pay for private, rather than NHS care.
It also said that caps on the level of damages awarded should be introduced and decided on by an independent body, and that damages for loss of earnings should be capped at three times the national average salary per year.