New figures from the NHS reveal that Oxfordshire area hospitals are the most costly in the country when it comes to paying out on the medical negligence claims of patients.
The NHS Trust for Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals paid out approximately £13 million to patients on personal injury claims related to medical negligence. After legal costs paid to personal injury solicitors were taken into account that figure rose to a total of £15.3 million, sources say.
The largest yearly payout ever since the inception of the legal system designed to handle clinical negligence in 2003, the £13 million figure dwarfs the system’s yearly inaugural cost of only £1.7 million. Dr Peter Skolar, Oxfordshire County Council member, remarked that the amount of money spent on negligence claims is incredible. The NHS could be taking this money and using it for patient treatment instead, Cllr Skolar said.
A former GP, the councillor laid the blame squarely on a ‘culture of compensation’ that has arisen in the UK over the past decade. Negligence on the part of medical staff should indeed lead to compensation to injured patients, he remarked, but not at such astronomical figures.
Solicitor firms have struck back against the councillor’s words, stating that higher payouts are the result of the rising cost of care. Oxford-based Blake Lapthorn solicitor, Sue Jarvis, commented that there were few people who were interested in pursuing medical negligence cases when she began practicing law in 1988, as patients felt that GPs and surgeons were attempting to do their best.
However, Ms Jarvis said that patients are showing a higher inclination to come forward due to the restrictions to the public purse and the lack of quality care. As a result, she added, costs have increased at a phenomenal rate.