Patient rights and the cost of health litigation: you don't ‘win’ compensation
John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, considers two sides of the litigation reform debate, and reflects on perceptions of compensation awards
The high and increasing cost of clinical negligence in the NHS has long been a contentious issue. NHS Resolution (2021) has frequently referred to the issue in its annual reports and most recently the House of Commons Select Committee on Health and Social Care has been holding an NHS Litigation Inquiry (https://tinyurl.com/2p84u4vm), discussing matters in depth.
Linked to the clinical negligence costs issue is the position of the harmed patient and their perspective. How should that be captured and factored into policy discussions, and debates on compensation system change? When the debates and policymaking take place the patient's perspective is often neglected or downplayed. It must be remembered that they have been avoidably, negligently harmed by those who were meant to care for them. The law's aim is to put them back in the position that they would have been in had that harm not occurred. As I have said previously in this column, money is a poor compensator for the loss of a faculty, amenity or a loved one.
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