This morning Radio Kent featured the case of ‘Lisa’ (not her real name) our client who has recovered over £2,000,000 in damages, following a failure by the QEQM Hospital, Margate to recognise that scans during her pregnancy indicated that her son would be born disabled. Nick represented her and both he and Lisa featured in the coverage.
Nick’s section of the programme was devoted to a discussion with Dr Michal Devlin, Head of Professional Standards and Liaison at the Medical Defence Union, concerning NHS compensation pay-outs.
The MDU is lobbying to cap damages payable for future care and future loss of earnings.
Nick argued that:- the level of NHS claims has plateaued over recent years; the number of claims is tiny in relation to the number of patients whom the NHS treats ever year; it is only truly indefensible errors (which no reasonably competent practitioner, hospital etc, could have made) that give rise to claims; and that the Access to Justice Act of 2009 (which introduced ‘no win no fee agreements’) actually opened up on access to justice for the vast majority of middle income patients who were not eligible for legal aid and lacked the financial resources to take on NHS Trusts, Medical Defence Unions etc historically.
Dr Devlin argued that:- you can put a figure on the physical needs and stress caused to someone like Lisa; the ‘big picture economics’ of the pay-outs made nationally needs addressing; the MDU’s proposed reforms, such as repeal of the Law Reform (Personal Injury) Act 1948 would allow a compensation system that was fair to patients and to society; a combined NHS/local authority package of care could provide for services to all disabled people.
Nick pointed out that Lisa’s son, who requires 24/7 care, could not possibly be adequately looked after through state provision, citing the fact that direct payments, currently, allow the family just a few hours outside care per week.
He argued that the NHS and the state generally already subsidises insurance companies hugely and repeal of the 1948 Act would be a further step in that direction which would not be fair to the tax payer or anyone, including victims of medical malpractice like Lisa.
To hear the full debate please click below.