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Patient safety will be at risk, warns the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers.

Posted on September 12th 2017

The Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL) warns that implementing fixed recoverable costs (FRC) for clinical injury claims will not only limit access to justice but will prevent the NHS gaining vital learnings from tragic outcomes including still births.

On Tuesday 12th September SCIL will lead a lobby of parliament, fighting against the government’s proposed fixed recoverable costs for clinical injury lawyers.  Specialists, including the independent patient safety charity, Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) say that these proposals seriously risk restricting access to justice and this will have an adverse effect on patient safety. AvMA’s concern about the impact of the proposals is such that they are supporting this lobby

Cases most likely to be affected by FRCs will be still births and elderly deaths, as compensation levels for these cases are frequently under £25,000.

SCIL says that just because these don’t qualify for a large level of compensation does not mean that the NHS shouldn’t be held accountable when mistakes are made.

FRCs will also have a significant impact on access to justice for patients and their families, as it will not be financially viable for many specialist firms to take on the case, so we could see a rise in unqualified claims management companies flooding the market.

SCIL also highlights that the NHS legal defence approach of deny, defend, delay as described by former Conservative MP, Sir Edward Garnier, has in itself driven up costs, but they choose to blame the growing bill on the patients’ lawyers.

A FOI request in 2016 revealed that the NHSLA did not win close to 76% of cases they took on to defend. If they had settled cases earlier rather than denying, defending and delaying unnecessarily, savings of up to £108 million could have been made.

SCIL Chairman Steve Webber has warned: “The Department of Health current proposals to cap legal costs in clinical injury cases will destroy the current system of providing compensation for patients who have suffered through no fault of their own and whose serious needs require funding. The proposals render the system financially unviable”.

 “The Department’s confused and contradictory policies towards clinical injury negligence are threatening to cause chaos for patients who, regrettably, have suffered because of clinical negligence in the NHS and the private health sector and close down the professional clinical injury specialist law sector”.

 “If the Government does not change course, 100,000s of NHS patients who think they may have a claim for negligence will be driven into the arms of an exploding army of claims management companies, working on no-win no-fee basis who will replace the existing professional sector”.

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