The Government has said that it will change the name of the NHS Litigation Authority to NHS Resolution from as early as this April, to reflect the body’s new focus on settling claims as soon as possible.
The Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has told MPs that the name change was part of a package of reforms to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.
“As part of that, I can inform the House that the NHS Litigation Authority will radically change its focus from simply defending NHS litigation claims to the early settlement of cases, learning from what goes wrong and the prevention of errors. As part of those changes, it will change its name to NHS Resolution.”
Commenting on the announcement, Linda Millband, national practice lead of Thompsons’ clinical negligence team said: “The Government’s announcement to rebrand the NHS Litigation Authority as NHS Resolution must be more than just another name for the same vastly under-resourced service.
“We are all for resolutions but the NHS cannot not pay out when it is negligent – whether that is to patients or to their staff. Call us cynical but we will not be holding our breath for seismic change that really helps those injured by the NHS unless and until the Health Secretary publishes details of a more proactive protocol for medical negligence and work related cases.”
Emma Hallinan, director of claims policy and technical at the Medical Protection Society, said that the decisions to bring in a fresh and more preventative approach to managing claims was timely, and would hopefully reduce the number of costly court cases.
“The fact remains however that last year alone £1.5 billion was spent on clinical negligence by the NHS at a time when it is under significant pressure,” she said.
“We desperately need a system which ensures compensation is reasonable for patients who have experienced clinical negligence, but is also affordable to society. The case for a whole package of legal reforms which tackle the root of the problem is becoming ever more pressing.”
Last December the NHSLA said that it was launching a mediation service to try and stem rising costs of litigation.
The service is meant to 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 in 2015 compared to £583 million in 2008.