Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, has announced proposals for a new fast track scheme to allow victims of medical negligence related to maternity care, to rapidly receive compensation to encourage an ‘open and transparent’ culture by ending the fear of litigation among doctors and nurses.
On average cases against the NHS are taking in the region of 11.5 years to be resolved for families of the victims.
The details of the voluntary scheme are yet to be published in full, but Hunt has indicated that the scheme will help to ensure that courts are ‘a last resort not an automatic first step’. The scheme is modeled on a Swedish scheme which has reduced serious avoidable birth injuries by 50% in the last 6-7 years.
The scheme will see that medical professionals who own up to negligence given legal protection, similar to the system in place with the airline industry. It is hoped then that standards will improve as medical professional rapidly learn from mistakes.
In our experience, many cases are hard fought by the NHS only to be settled in favour of the Claimant much further down the line. The tactics of defending and delaying by the NHS only seeks to prolong the distress and impact which the negligence has caused and may continue to cause to the victims and families for many years to come. Furthermore, these tactics inevitably significantly increases the costs of bringing a claim and may warrant the need for court proceedings which may not have otherwise been required.
Whilst a faster resolution of claims is always welcomed, the concern is that fair and just compensation is received for victims and families who have suffered often life changing injuries or even death of a child. We await full details of the scheme to assess its potential impact.
Here at Jordans Solicitors, we have a specialist team dealing with medical negligence claims including those involving negligent maternity care. We understand the distress and significant impact that such negligence can cause and we aim to deal with claims as quickly and efficiently as possible.