How has medical negligence changed over the years

Written by C Wolsey

If you’ve ever suffered with medical negligence, you’ll know how much it can have an impact on not only your life, but your loved ones too. Over the past few years things have changed dramatically, but what does this mean for those who have been impacted or are looking to make a claim in the future? 

Claims in the UK have changed 

In the UK, we have a compensation culture that could rival that of the USA. Thanks to the wide array of marketing campaigns produced around claims, it’s easy to see why so many more people are exploring making a claim if something goes wrong. 

According to the NHS Resolution’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2019 and 2020, new clinical negligence claims increased by 9.35%. Will we continue to see an upward trajectory of claims over the coming years? 

Medical negligence has changed in court 

The way in which these cases are handled in court has also changed, with the range and types of medical evidence used in court having evolved over the years. No longer do the solicitors involved have to rely on one medical opinion to prove there was a failure. They can now access medical witnesses from a variety of different specialisms, who are there to provide fair and impartial medical reports for their cases.  

Medical records can also be requested and gathered much easier. These are used to help prove whether a treatment or procedure was carried out properly and whether there are grounds for a medical negligence claim.  

High claims are putting pressure on the health service 

With the increase in cases being taken to court and the ease in which patient data is accessed, there has been an understandable increase in pressure on the NHS. Between 2008 and 2016 the legal bill for claims in England increased from £583million to £1.6billion respectively.  

Another key factor adding more pressure is the aging population. The demand for care will further stretch the NHS resulting in additional pressure on doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners. Unfortunately, with the increase in pressure, this can result in mistakes being made, increasing the potential for more claims being made.  

Increase in pay-outs by the NHS for medical negligence 

Did you know that each year, the NHS receives more than 10,000 new claims for compensation. This startling figure is only set to increase meaning a higher demand for pay-outs by the NHS. According to The Department of Health, they have pledged to tackle the “unsustainable rise in the cost of clinical negligence”. Whether changes are made is yet to be seen, but we remain hopeful something will be done to manage the problem.