The annual cost of the clinical negligence for trusts has quadrupled over the last decade—
from £0.4 billion in 2006–07 to £1.6 billion in 2016–17—taking already scarce resources
away from frontline services and patients.
A recent report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee states that “there seems to be a prevailing attitude of defensiveness in the NHS when things go wrong”, and a “reluctance to admit mistakes, which is likely to be leading
to more clinical negligence claims.”
More worryingly, the lack of consistent data across the system means that the NHS still does not fully understand why some people suffering harm choose to make claims or the root causes of negligence, so it is not well placed to learn from
From 2006–07 to 2016–17, the number of clinical negligence claims registered with NHS Resolution each year doubled, from
5,300 to 10,600. Annual cash spending on the Scheme quadrupled over this period, from £0.4 billion to £1.6 billion. The estimated cost of settling future claims has risen from £51 billion in 2015–16 to £60 billion in 2016–17. There are two main factors contributing to the rising costs. First, increasing damages for a small but stable number of high-value, mostly maternity-related claims. These accounted for 8% of all claims in 2016–17, but 83% of all damages awarded. Second, increasing legal costs resulting from an increase in the number and average cost of low-value claims. Over 60% of successful claims resolved in 2016–17 had a value of less than £25,000.