Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The cost of litigiation in the NHS

Whilst indulging in some forum posting on DNUK (no you can't have a link, unless you're a registered doctor in the UK) I came across a link to a question posed in the Lords yesterday (Hansard).

NHS: Compensation and Legal Costs

Lord Steinberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the cost to the National Health Service of £175 million for compensation and legal costs as stated by the National Health Service Litigation Authority includes all outstanding cases to the end of the past financial year. [HL7454]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The NHS Litigation Authority 2005-06 accounts report expenditure of £591,586,000 on clinical and non-clinical negligence claims in the past financial year. The accounts include a provision, as at 31 March 2006, of £8,344,980,000 for all outstanding cases including an estimate for incidents that have occurred but not been reported.

Yes, you read that right.

The government have put aside £8.344 billion pounds to cover negligence claims against the NHS, both clinical and non-clinical. Doesn't say how much is put aside for non-clinical negligence though. Nor does it define what non-clinical negligence is. (Anyone fancy a Freedom of Information request there?)

Eight. Billion. Quid.

One thing that does surprise me is that no further questions were asked. Even in the current climate of rather defensive medicine (though not as bad as the USA) this figure is staggering. To put it in perspective, that would be a year's income for over 330,000 new police officers.

Yet so far, the Government (Lawd bless 'em!) have spent over £20 billion on a computer system which isn't fit for purpose and probably won't be.

God help us all...


Dr Karl Francis said...

Is that 20 Billion down the drain for the NHS computer system or the police computer system or the air traffic control computer system. It's so hard to find a computer system the government has bought that didn't cost billions, or even one that works.
Here's an original idea. Why doesn't our mate Tony save a few billion by cancelling on of the ineffective computer systems and use the money to hire an effective government, we would all end up better off.

Simon Bandy said...


I haven't been to the doctors in ages (I Know!!!), surely that must be some form of neglegence. I'm not sure on who's part, but anyway could you pease send me the relevent forms? I would like my large part of that fund.

Russell Brown said...

No, Simon, you can't. I haven't been given any forms...

Anonymous said...

8 Billion is a ridiculous amount. however if a mistake is made people deserve an explanation and reparations if needed. A mistake made by a medical professional is probably more costly then any other mistake! However claiming malpractice over tiny errors which don’t have massive consequence would be a waste of everyone’s time, the courts, doctors and lawyers. However when there is a case of major medical negligence then the victim and their family deserve an explanation and if necessary compensation!