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The Role of Mediation in Reducing NHS Resolution Annual Report Numbers

HNS STudio 90The rising cost of clinical negligence has been of significant concern for the NHS for the last several years, as highlighted in its focus on the organisational goals of the NHS Resolution agency. The purpose behind the NHS Resolution is to create and implement solutions that reduce the cost of litigation and compensation to injured patients, within the parameters of the law. This is a growing need given the unsustainable financial position the NHS currently operates in, but the path toward resolving claims compensation issues is not as clear-cut as many would hope. However, the most recent NHS Resolution Annual Report and Accounts offers some insight into what may be working to help patients, the NHS, and healthcare providers throughout the region.

In the 2017/18 Annual Report from NHS Resolution, several data points show the change in claims compensation and litigation processes over the last 12 months. Most notably, the NHS spent more in paying out damages to claimants, but the total legal costs passed down to claimants experienced an impressive reduction. Understanding these highlights from the annual report requires an in-depth look at the whole financial picture, alongside the one component of medical negligence claims that seems to be making a positive impact for NHS and its patients.

NHS Resolution Report Statistics

The annual report offers several statistics for the past year relating to legal claims against the NHS, including the fact that the number of these claims continues to rise. According to some NHS leaders, the total cost of clinical negligence has reached an all-time high, giving much cause for concern. For the 2017/18 timeframe, the NHS paid out more than £1.63 billion in damages, an increase from the 2016/17 £1.08 billion. Additionally, total provisions for all indemnity schemes were on the rise, increasing from £65 billion to £77 billion as of March.

While these figures are not necessarily moving in the direction NHS leaders want, the reduction in the number of new clinical negligence claims was promising. New claims reported in 2017/18 decreased by 0.12%, highlighting what may be the start of stabilization of legal claim costs for the agency. Additionally, the majority of claims were resolved without formal court proceedings involved, with more claims resolved without any payment of damages. A total of around one-third of legal claims against the NHS ended up in litigation, but a minimal one percent went to full trial. These numbers shed light on what NHS Resolution is doing correctly in the process of managing medical negligence cases.

Mediation Impact on Negligence Claims

Over the last several years of increasing costs associated with clinical negligence legal issues facing the NHS, those in authority have been quick to blame patient lawyers for the rising bill. That coupled with the perception of a population eager to go through litigation has been a driving force behind a focus on legal costs. However, a group of medical negligence solicitors in the UK shares that the high cost of litigation across the NHS is more accurately tied to the reality that medical mistakes continue to take place. Individuals seeking quality care from NHS providers are not always receiving what they hope for, and the legal claims are more focused on receiving due compensation for ongoing care. In addition, individuals harmed at the hands of the NHS are more eager to see that similar mistakes do not happen to others – not necessarily unfair compensation from the healthcare organisation.

The NHS Resolution report for the year brings these more relevant issues to light, citing that more cases than in the entire history of the agency are going through mediation. Instead of lengthy trials and combative litigation, mediation is becoming more the norm in clinical negligence cases. This helps reduce the total bill paid by the NHS for mistakes, and it makes the process of receiving compensation less taxing for patients and their loved ones. Settling more claims in this manner is a promising shift – one that many hope continues even if the total cost of medical negligence claims in the NHS increases over time.

As NHS Resolution and the healthcare organisation move toward a safer environment for patients, and ultimately, more effective patient care, the bill for legal claims has an opportunity to rise in line with the increases witnessed in this year’s figures. However, the total cost of litigation for both the NHS and patients will likely decrease in a similar fashion as more cases are resolved through mediation. This process benefits patients, their families, GPs, and the NHS as a whole.



 
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