Figures released by the Compensation Recovery Unit of the DWP have revealed an 18.4 percent in the number of injury claims for NHS negligence settled in the past year.
According to statistics recently published, the Compensation Recovery Unit recovered state benefits and healthcare costs from 16,006 injury claims for NHS negligence in 2012/2013 – an increase of 18.4 percent on the corresponding figure from the previous year (13,517) and more than 80 percent up on figures from five years ago (2007/2008 – 8,876).
The size of the increase prompted Margaret Hodge – chairperson of the Commons Public Accounts Committee – to describe the figures as “deeply worrying” and stated that the quality of healthcare provided by the NHS was a “major concern”. However, medical and legal experts had their own views on the reason for the increase.
Chief Executive of the Patients Association – Katherine Murphy – commented “I think the public has become far less tolerant about putting up with appalling failings in care, but most people only pursue legal action when every other avenue has failed” and her opinion was mirrored by a leading medical negligence lawyer who said “In the past, victims of medical accidents often had moral reservations about claiming against the NHS, despite having clearly suffered extreme negligence in some cases, but the shocking findings of the Francis report have now made hospitals fair game in the eyes of the public.”
When approached by news agencies for a comment, a spokesperson from the Department of Health said “Whilst we know the vast majority of patients get good, safe care, the best way to reduce compensation claims is to improve patient safety further – and this is a priority.” He added that the National Health Service has sought outside help to encourage “a zero-harm culture in the NHS” which will ultimately reduce the number of injury claims for NHS negligence.