Only 15% of claims against our doctors succeed, says MDU


The MDU has revealed that it successfully defended 85% of medical claims that closed last year.

The medical defence organisation has said that an outdated and adversarial legal system is leading to doctors and patients having to endure considerable stress and anxiety caused by medical negligence claims, the large majority of which do not succeed.

Dr Christine Tomkins, the MDU’s chief executive, said that the UK’s doctors continues to provide standards of care that were among the best in the word for their patients, despite the financial, professional and personal pressures on the NHS and the MDU’s members. She said that the UK still had far more claims than it did in 2012 and that the proportion where the doctor’s actions were not negligent had also risen.

“This doesn’t serve anyone well – doctors or patients,” said Tomkins.

“The costs for the MDU of carefully investigating a case and satisfying the claimant’s lawyers there is no case to answer are significant. On top of that, when we do pay compensation, the size of awards are still rising unsustainably. Claims for £10 million or more are no longer unusual. The recent drastic drop in the discount rate to – 0.75% has made matters very much worse.”

Dr Peter Williams, the MDU’s chairman said that the dramatic increase in the number of claims being brought against its members had led to some doctors having second thoughts about taking on higher risk activities.

“Others express reservations about entering specialties where indemnity is so expensive relative to their income. This is worrying, particularly when standards of clinical care remain high and there is rightly more emphasis on risk management,” he said.

“It is abundantly clear that the numbers of claims and size of compensation awards are connected to changes in the civil justice system, rather than to doctors’ performance and professional standards. Change is needed and the MDU is advocating a system that is both fair and proportionate for all parties.”


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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via