The NHS could save billions of pounds if the system for compensating injured patients were to be reformed, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has said.
The MDU has suggested repealing a law dating back to 1948, which currently requires compensation to be calculated on the basis that the patient’s future care will be provided privately, rather than through public providers of health and social care. It also wants to see caps imposed on the level of damages awarded for future care, which would be decided by an independent body, and a has called for damages for loss of earnings to be capped at three times the national average salary per year.
Dr Christine Tomkins, the MDU’s chief executive, said: “Litigation against the NHS places a huge strain on resources. Under the current system billions of pounds of NHS funds are being used to set up one-person private care arrangements for negligently damaged patients, diverting resources from NHS care.
“Patients who have been negligently harmed should receive fair compensation but the requirement to fund care to be delivered in the private sector does not reflect social or financial reality. The current out of date system needs to change in the interests of all patients and taxpayers. We are calling on the government and policy makers to take this issue seriously and to act now to avoid a crisis.”
Tomkins also said that an MDU survey had found that the majority of the public, MPs and doctors agreed that injured patients future care could be provided by the NHS, rather than privately.