Practice nurses face increasing claims of medical negligence

Personal injury solicitors may be interested to learn that medical negligence claims against practice nurses have been increasing at a frightening rate over the past few years. The situation is now so bad that legal costs have trebled since 2006.

In 2006, legal costs for the RCN amounted to just £1.48 million. Last year, it cost about £5 million to defend the personal injury compensation claims brought against members of the Royal College of Nursing; an increase of £2 million on the year before. That was the biggest year on year increase in costs but a Nursing in Practice investigation discovered that the size of personal injury claims has increased at an alarming rate in the last five years.

RCN legal director, Chris Cox, says the increase in costs can be attributed to the significant rise in high value compensation claims. Until 2008/09 no claims had been made against RCN members for more than a million pounds. That year saw the first, and the number of significant claims has been on the rise ever since.

The RCN has decided to stop providing practice nurses with indemnity cover as a result of increased legal costs. As from the start of 2012, GPs will have to accept ‘vicarious liability’ for their nurses’ actions. This means they will have to take legal and financial responsibility in the event of medical negligence claims.

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