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The clinical negligence system reform debate is heating up

10 February 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 3


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses some recent developments on moves to reform our tort-based clinical negligence compensation system

The adage ‘so near and yet so far’ well describes where we are with our current clinical negligence system reform. Although at the time of writing we have not yet heard any details from the government on its plans to reform the system (Hyde, 2021), the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee (HSCSC) Inquiry on NHS Litigation is steaming ahead and producing some excellent expert witness evidence, which is generating a lot of food for thought:

‘Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has questioned whether clinical negligence lawyers are blocking vital reforms because the status quo is too lucrative to change.’

Hyde, 2022

Going straight to the transcript of the meeting (HSCSC, 2022), Hunt's question was addressed to Guy Forster, representing the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers:

‘Last year, £2.2 billion was paid by the NHS. There is a huge industry of clinical negligence lawyers. I think getting on for half that amount was legal fees. Is there self-interest in the legal profession that makes you want to resist change?’

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