The Chief Executive of the Medical Defence Union has highlighted fears that settlements of NHS medical negligence claims are reaching out of control levels and becoming unsustainable.
Talking on the BBC´s “Today” program, Christine Tomkins stated that the worth of compensation claims against the NHS being presently being settled is increasing faster than society´s ability to meet th cost of them. “Money is pouring out of the NHS to set up one-patient institutions” she stated “when it could be retained in the NHS.”
In her statement Ms Tomkins said that legislation first drafted in 1948 – the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act – does not account got care provision available from the NHS for those who sustain a catastrophic injury and settlements of medical negligence claims against the NHS are therefore estimated on how much it would cost to provide care for the injured victim on a private basis.
On the TV program, she used the example of the case of Charlie Scott, who was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic hemiplegic atheloid cerebral palsy after suffering brain damaged during birth, and whose mother recently was successful in her 14-year legal contest with the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Trust.
The medical negligence at birth compensation settlement of £7.1 million, Ms Tomkins alleged, would be much lower if those calculating the value of compensation in NHS negligence claims could take in to account the care available on the NHS. Ms Tomkins said that the NHS Litigation Authority has periodic payment liabilities of £18bn – enough to pay the yearly running costs of a dozen large hospitals used for teaching purposes.
Charlie Scott´s mother, Clare, was also asked to speak on the radio program. She recognised that some of the care and equipment from which Charlie will now find benefit could be provided by the NHS, but she advised presenter Justin Webb that Charlie will not have to wait for social services assessments any longer before being provided with the care he requires. Mrs Scott went on to say that the size and structure of the compensation settlement enables the security of 24-hour care for her son when she, or the NHS, would not be able to provide it.