A plan to shake up the NHS compensation scheme risks seeing patients losing their right to properly rebuild their lives after falling victim to poor care, a leading negligence solicitor has warned.
Nisha Sharma, a partner at law firm Taylor Rose MW, said newly proposed rules were “at best far-fetched, at worst disingenuous”.
Ms Sharma was commenting in the wake of a recent report released by MPs which claimed the current system was “not fit for purpose” and needed to be radically overhauled.
The Health and Social Care Committee report has recommended a new system which suggests removing the need to prove clinical negligence. Instead an administrative body would be responsible for investigating cases.
Commenting on the proposal, Ms Sharma said: “The first thing that comes to mind is how utterly unrealistic the proposals are. How do we expect a health system that is already stretched and underfunded, to pay adequate compensation to all patients where something hasn’t gone to plan? This is inconsistent with lowering NHS spend as there would be more patients to pay. The system would also rely heavily on transparency and the duty of candour principle being applied in each and every case and looking at the headlines in any given week: This in itself is a huge challenge. Patients need to have lawyers to advocate for them and for their rights to be protected, without this they will be under compensated if at all. Sadly, I have to conclude that the aims of the proposed new system are at best far fetched and at worst disingenuous.”
A government spokesperson said: “The rising cost of clinical negligence is unsustainable and puts added pressure on public resources, which is why we are working across government to address this and will consult on the issue.
“We recently consulted on proposals to tackle disproportionately high legal fees for lower value clinical negligence claims and NHS Resolution is working to resolve claims more quickly, with better value for money.
“Patient safety is a top priority and we are continuing to take action to improve safety, training and learning.”