When the NHS gets something wrong and people suffer they can be held to account. The person who suffered or their family, if someone has wrongly lost their life, can pursue a complaint, request a meeting with the Trust, pursue a complaint to the Ombudsman and they can also pursue a claim in negligence for compensation. Often as a result of people taking these steps lessons are learnt and the NHS can make changes and improvements, the aim being that no one else will suffer in this way.
Currently there are no fixed fees in respect of the cost of pursing a clinical negligence claim against the NHS. Clinical negligence specialist solicitors will pursue claims worth £1,000 to multi million pound compensation claims.
The government are proposing reforms to reduce the legal cost of pursuing claims and they are intending for all claims worth less than £25,000 to have a fixed recoverable fee.
On the face of it this probably does not seem a bad idea. However pursing a clinical negligence claim and being able to prove breach of duty, causation and then quantifying the claim is often the same whether the case is worth £1,000 or a million pounds. The amount of work and the number of experts required can be the same on a small value claim as on a large value claim.
The concern is that fixed costs will make it difficult for lower value claims to be pursued successfully and will as a result deny many families access to justice.
We at Wilson Browne have a specialist clinical negligence team and we are working with the Law Society, AvMA (Accident against Medical Accidents) a charity, APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and SCIL (Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers) to lobby the government against this proposal.
There is a serious risk that those who will be most affected will be the vulnerable in society such as the elderly and people who are disabled. These cases can be complex and challenging but not necessarily the highest in value.
The governments consultation closes 1st May 2017 and we would urge anyone who has successfully pursued a clinical negligence claim and received less than £25,000 in damages to write to their MP and ask them to vote against fixed recoverable costs for clinical negligence claims.
For further information please call our Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 088 6004