“Claims for clinical negligence outstanding at 31 March 2010 could cost £15.7 billion, or 15 per cent of the government’s total provision for future expenses arising from events that have happened in the past,” the report warns.
“The Treasury … did not know that clinical claims recorded by the NHS Litigation Authority had increased by some 31 per cent in 2010/11 or what plans were in place to reduce liabilities for clinical negligence.”
A large proportion of the clinical negligence bill is the result of errors that have left babies brain damaged – an area where the cost is rising as advances in medicine mean these children live longer and therefore cost more.
To which I would say that actually, a large proportion of this £15.7 billion bill is the result of believing that having a baby is like getting your Toyota serviced. Something that can be quantified in advance and should have a manual for technicians – any deviation from the manual, and wallop, multi-million pound settlement. You ‘deserve’ a perfect baby, haven’t you gone through nine months of pregnancy to achieve it? – and now you are as aggrieved as any purchaser of a Gucci handbag with the seams coming undone.
NOW! PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE COMMENTING.
I do not in any way suggest that the State – and society – should not help to bear the cost of supporting a badly disabled child where needed.
However, I am totally against the notion that the sad birth of such a child should be the occasion for a windfall if the lawyers can point their fingers in the right direction, to illustrate some deviation from the manual.
Fault! Fault! Fault they scream – and if they have got it right, some 12 years, Yes! 12 years on average, later around 6 million (on average) will be removed from the NHS budget and passed to the Court of Protection, pausing only to drop off around £2 million into the hands of the lawyers. Once in the court, it will be administered by a stream of ‘equal opportunity/free movement in Europe’ men and women who signed on at the job centre six weeks ago, who will decide in their wisdom what you can use the money for. More often than not it will be administered by the same lawyers who already took a £2 million rake off, in return for a regular dip into the pot each year.
That is the reality that you are supporting should you wish to say ‘its only right that they should get compensation’.
When/if the child dies, the balance of the pot, carefully costed to include the prohibitive projected cost of supporting said child in 2075 or whatever date they managed to find experts to convince the judge that this child ‘could’ live to, will be handed to the parents.
Since the ‘assets’ are held in the Court of Protection, they are not ‘under the control of’ the child, they are not considered ‘assets’ by Social Security – and so Disability Living Allowance and all the other State run schemes to support the disabled, still apply. I was amused to see the Daily Telegraph the other day holding their nose and pointing a sneering finger at a couple of Lottery millionaires still claiming Disability Living Allowance; they should take a peek inside the Court Funds Office, there they will find literally hundreds of ‘millionaires’ being supported by the state…
On the other hand, if they can’t find anyone to ‘blame’ – there is no compensation. The child ends up sleeping in exactly the same sort of bed, sitting in the same wheelchair, attending the same ‘special school’ as the child who received millions; and is just as disabled. Ah, I forget – the parents don’t get to buy a hideously expensive house in the name of the child, and cover the floor in shag pile carpet…
Money doesn’t compensate these sorts of situations. I feel fully qualified to expound that view, since I was also the ‘victim’ of a medical ‘accident’ 40 years ago. I went into hospital for a simple gynae op, and thanks to someone with a similar name, came out minus my womb. For a 23 year old girl, that was pretty devastating – but what difference would money have made? Anyone in the same position today would be knee deep in lawyers – to what avail? Should I have bought some children?
There are some situations where money can alleviate the problem – again, another declaration of conflict of interest, before someone brings it up. I sued the government when it quite deliberately put me in a position where I lost thousands of pounds. I won too, or at least they came second! But suing for breach of a contractual matter is quite different from suing because a birth didn’t go as you would wish – something that cannot be put right with money. Nor would I have sued had I been able to 40 years ago.
People do make mistakes. It is human nature. The Captain of the Costa Concordia made a mistake, Fred Goodwin made a mistake, the man who fitted your oil filter may well have made a mistake, Gordon Brown made mistakes, handing over a tump of money to the victims of these mistakes, and their lawyers doesn’t put them right, it merely denudes, in the original matter, the NHS of the funds to do what it is supposed to be doing, curing sick people.
If it stopped the mistakes happening in some magical manner, there might be some logic to the compensation culture, but then if it did that, we wouldn’t still have massive claims for the same sort of mistakes 20 years later, would we?
If the lawyers weren’t taking a third of that £15 billion, think how many more nurses we could have on the wards, how many more medications we could afford for sick people, how much more help we could give to the disabled? I’m no great supporter of the NHS, but I do think they should be immune from these compensation claims – and ‘uman rights claims.
Would it not be better if a budget was set aside from the health budget for ‘no fault’ compensation and the money used to help those with direct physical and financial need?
What think you?