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Medicopolitical Digest

Central scheme for clinical negligence proposed

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 19 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:795
  1. L Beecham

    Proposals for a pooling arrangement to cover clinical negligence claims against NHS trusts are outlined in a consultation paper issued by the Department of Health. They offer trusts an alternative method of funding negligence claims. In 1993-4 the NHS paid out about £100m in claims by patients for negligent treatment.

    The proposed centralised scheme is at an early stage of development but the department says that the pool will be based on three fundamental principles:

    • It will be self funded and would expect to meet the majority of clinical negligence costs for each NHS trust

    • It should reward best practice in reducing the number of incidents and responding quickly to patients' complaints

    • Membership would be voluntary.

    It is not intended to shield NHS trusts fully from the costs arising from clinical negligence. This would depend on their ability to prevent incidents happening and reacting speedily to provide a remedy when they do.

    The proposals aim to strike a balance between the right of patients to seek redress for clinical negligence through litigation and the right of the doctor, nurse, or midwife concerned to be defended against malicious accusations of negligence, as well as the need to achieve value for money from NHS resources.

    Health minister Brian Mawhinney said that the new scheme would provide a simple financial mechanism to counter the cost of increasing litigation to the NHS. He said that it would give an incentive to trusts to strive …

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