In the last two weeks it has been announced that “no win, no fee”, medical negligence lawyers have been banned from advertising their services from within NHS hospitals. According to the altered contract, trusts “must not enter into, extend or renew any contractual agreement” with any company who could potentially lead to a legal claim against the National Health Service. Between 2016 and 2017, the NHS spent around £1.7 billion on clinical negligence claims, with 36 percent of that being legal costs.
Some hospitals were paid thousands to display advertisements for compensation in the form of official patient leaflets in A+E waiting rooms. The deals made with these hospitals meant that the lawyers were unable to deal with any cases against the hospital they were based in. However, they were able to work with claims elsewhere.
Finding a balance
Last week, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS confederation, spoke with BBC radio 4 to discuss his view that “not all lawyers are ambulance chasers”, and somewhat defended medical negligence lawyers for their services. He acknowledged that the increase in costs to public funds was due to the discount rate.
It is difficult to find the balance between the claimants rights to full compensation for their damages under the NHS, with the increasing burden weighing down on public funds. Dickson made a point that some cases are abandoned at the doors of court. These cases take up huge amounts of time, then will simply melt away before the court date arrives. It makes you question who is handling these cases. Are they being held by non specialist lawyers? And despite the NHSR taking steps in a new direction to ensure that medical cases are settled sooner, is there more that could be done?
Finding the solution
Medical negligence claims can be split into two issues. The first is the increase in damages awards, and the second would be the costs of claim in legal fees. Both of these may seem like something that can be handled together, but maybe they in fact require to separate solutions. If not, is the damaged patient likely to suffer? Not only this, but will the public lose trust in the NHS’s ability to look after those who are injured due to poor care?
Though it may appear that medical negligence lawyers are simply ambulance chasers, it is important to remember that we are simply here to help if you do need to make a claim. At Harold Stock and Co, we make it our mission to listen to your story, and to understand what it is you need in order to get your life back on track when things go wrong. If you would like to know more about how our services could help you, then please contact us for more information.