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Balancing the books or balancing the scales: what should drive reforms?

28 October 2021
6 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 19


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, considers the two opposing viewpoints on the need for change in the clinical negligence litigation system


In discussing clinical negligence litigation in England it seems there are two opposing views on what is going on and the need for reform. On the one side we have the doctors' defence organisations arguing for urgent reform to stem the tide of clinical negligence litigation and reduce the costs associated with this (‘Camp 1’).

On the other, we find those warning that any reforms must not interfere with the patient's inalienable right to access justice and to receive just compensation for negligently inflicted injury (‘Camp 2’).

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) (2017), when discussing the increasing costs of clinical negligence claims, states:

‘To pay for this, the NHS is diverting a significant amount of its funding away from front-line patient care towards claims. At a time when the NHS is facing tough financial pressures and must make difficult decisions about how it allocates its limited and precious resources, there is an urgent need to review the money spent on compensation for clinical negligence. Finally, we are also concerned about the impact the fear of being sued is having on dentists and doctors' health and wellbeing and the way that they practise.’

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