Written by

Kathryn Sharkey - Senior Solicitor

The NHS compensation fees total is alarming, but evidence suggests claimants’ legal costs are falling, that’s according to Medical Negligence Solicitor, Kathryn Sharkey.

Kathryn, a Solicitor at Patient Claim Line, is responding to a BBC investigation into the NHS’s outstanding legal fees.

After submitting a Freedom of Information Request, the BBC understands the NHS could pay £4.3bn in legal fees to settle outstanding clinical negligence claims.

Kathryn said:

“Whilst it is rather alarming to hear that the NHS compensation fee total stands at £4.3 billion, we must consider why it is so high.

“According to Nigel Poole QC and NHS Resolution’s annual reports, Claimants’ legal costs fell by £31.8m in 2017-18 and a further £24.3m in 2018-19. Furthermore, NHSR paid claimants’ legal costs of £442m in 2018-19.

“Consequently, the significant question here is how the bill of £4.3bn has been calculated?”

NHS clinical negligence claims: Breaking down the numbers

The investigation highlights that the NHS receives more than 10,000 claims each year.

In addition, the figure includes projected estimates and all existing unsettled claims.

Prior to the investigation, the total cost of outstanding compensation claims was estimated to be around £83bn. That’s according to last year’s estimate.

However, NHS England’s total budget for 2018-19 was set to £129bn.

Meanwhile, The Department of Health are confident in tackling what they believe is “the unsustainable rise in the cost of clinical negligence”.

Claimant Solicitors work with the NHSR to settle disputes

According to Kathryn, the primary aim of the Claimant Solicitor is to settle a case without any unnecessary delay or dispute.

Firstly, this is demonstrated in obtaining expert evidence in the earlier stages of the case.

In the event this is supportive, allegations are formally submitted to the NHSR without delay.

Secondly, providing NHSR respond to the Claimant allegations within the four-month timescale, costs can be minimal, and settlements can be agreed far earlier.

Kathryn concluded:

“It is important to note that Claimant solicitors appreciate the time pressures NHSR are working against, this is highlighted in the willingness to grant extensions to the NHSR to provide a formal response to the allegations.

“If providing an extension, does lead to an increase in Claimant costs then one can only say this is an unavoidable implication.”

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