Having assaulted the costs and damages in road traffic claims attention by paying parties and the government is now turning to the cost of and associated with clinical negligence claims.
Some would argue that the best way to avoid clinical negligence is to fund the National Health Service better so as to minimise the risk of patients receiving poor treatment from overworked doctors and clinicians but others suggest addressing the issue after the event.
In a case I recently had involvement with which was discontinued after joint medical evidence turned against the claimant the costs of the defendant solicitors were in the region of tens of thousands of pounds which could have been avoided by the NHS had the multiple offers of mediation been accepted.
The NHS litigation service reported lasted week that it was now spending £65 billion on claims (up from £26 billion in 2014), this was despite the drop in the number of clinical negligence cases and due in part to the increased costs of those bringing the claims.
Kinglesy Napley who act for the NHS on many occasions (and get paid under the current one way costs shifting rule win or lose) released a statement from Richard Lodge, a senior clinical negligence specialist, that “Mediation is a new and welcome theme for NHS Resolution. It certainly makes sense to try to settle claims ahead of expensive court proceedings if the NHS legal bill is to be brought down. Too often claimant lawyers have been cast as the reason for spiralling negligence payouts. From our side of the fence, however, more prudent management of cases would make an important difference in keeping a lid on costs, as well, of course, as the obvious point of avoiding mistakes to prevent claims in the first place.”
“The clinical negligence lawyer community should respond accordingly to this new emphasis from
Helen Vernon. It makes sense for all parties—victim clients and NHS Trusts—to resolve their differences early if possible, for financial and other reasons. We all have our part to play. Talk is one thing but more work needs to be done by all stakeholders to make mediation mainstream.”
Defending the levels of clinical care chief executive of the Medical Defence Union which acts as union and pseudo insurer for medical staff said “These increases in claims payments are nothing to do with the quality of clinical care, which remains high. They are a result of a hostile legal climate. Awards of this size, paid from NHS funds, are damaging for everyone who uses the NHS and cannot be sustained if we want the NHS to survive.”
The Medical Protection Society’s director of claims policy and legal Emma Hallinan added that the discount rate calculations (for future care costs) is equally to blame “Legal reform is required to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable. The government is committed to publishing a strategy in September and this needs to be bold if we are going to get close to addressing these rising costs. Swift progress is also needed on the Civil Liability Bill to reform the way the discount rate is set.” (the Bill limited the awards and costs for road traffic accidents and is expected to be widened to include clinical injuries as well)
Whether the discount rate is to blame for some of the increase it is clear that in many cases people are not so interested in the amount of money awarded as the potential for preventing similar incidents happening to others in the future, one of the many benefits of mediation is that it is not limited to damages claims but an seek an apology and a change of staff training or alert systems within a clinical body. Sadly all too often the society’s listed above go into full lock down and make the investigation of a claim or simple complaint by the lay client (prior to seeing a solicitor) so difficult as to make the injured party more suspicious and increase the chance of litigation.
I’ve blogged before about mediation as portrayed in the Archers, this week it’s time for the TV soaps to feature an appalling example of what does not happen in mediation, yes I’m talking bout the cobbles of Coronation Street which I would happily have dug up and slung through the TV had I been watching.
Clearly unacceptable behaviour in any circumstance but in no way would a mediator have allowed matters to escalate to this level, the meeting would have called off long before Johnny got so excitable.
Parties often come with trepidation to a mediation whether it’s a former partner, spouse, employer or neighbour and this sort of rubbish does no favours to encourage people into understanding the nature of mediation.
Speaking of employment mediation over in the real world in Kamloops Vancouver B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union representing striking workers employed by Gateway Casinos are going back to mediation with the company.
The dispute has been ongoing since last September with the sticking point being the remuneration of employees including part time staff.
Director of public relations for Gateway Casinos Tanya Gabara, confirmed mediation was set for three days later this month. Recognising the benefit of mediation for all involved she said "We know a fair and reasonable collective agreement for both our staff and our company is possible and remain committed to these negotiations to reach a deal and get our employees back to work"
Northwest Mediation can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes or inheritance arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at email@example.com
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