Litigation costs resulting from poor care in the NHS

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has highlighted the price of litigation as one of the ‘shocking costs’ of poor care harming the NHS.  He stressed that to reduce these avoidable costs standards in safety and quality of care need to improve.

A report by Frontier Economics concluded that the NHS is spending up to £2.5bn every year as a result of poor care and more than half of this amount can be attributed to litigation costs.  Compensation payouts for clinical negligence have more than doubled from £592m to £1.3bn between 2005/06 and 2012/13.

In an address to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Mr Hunt said “these are large sums of money which the NHS is potentially wasting.  I want every director of every hospital trust to understand the impact this harm is having not just on their patients, but also their finances.”

He added “Too many people still think that providing the best care is something you do only when you can afford it – and fail to appreciate that improving care is one of the best ways to control costs in financially challenged circumstances.”

CQC’s annual ‘State of Care’ report published yesterday highlighted the scale of the government’s task in improving the provision of NHS funded care.  In particular, the report noted variations in the level of care between trusts, hospitals sites, hospital services and within each individual service.  It stated that almost 80% of the 82 NHS acute trusts inspected by way of its new inspection regime were rated as either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ when assessing safety.  This suggests that more resources need to be focused on addressing safety at the front line to ensure that the resulting costs of un-safe incidents are controlled more effectively.

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