The Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST), which handles all clinical negligence claims against member NHS bodies, has highlighted the types of claims that cost the NHS the most. The expenditure referring to both damages that are paid to the client and associated legal costs.
Obstetrics and gynaecological claims make up roughly one third of the total CNST expenditure, which is no surprise considering they are the second most common type of negligence claim for the NHS, behind surgery.
Other costly claims that feature highly on the list include orthopaedic surgery claims, for example problems arising during hip replacements, and those relating to treatment in A&E. These types of claims, which can be centred on a misdiagnosis or a failure to refer to a specialist department, are an all too common source of the types of cases we deal with.
Another expensive type of claim for the NHS are those relating to general surgery, as it encompasses a wide range of failings such as infections, unnecessary damage to nerves, tissue or muscle damage during surgery and foreign objects left in a patient’s body.
Reviewing which claims cost the NHS the most is important for improving the service and renewing efforts to improve the safety of patients. When a duty of care has been breached that results in harm to a patient, it is difficult to overstate the significance of seeking damages in order to help rebuild lives and pay for future care. However, it is in the public interest to find ways to reduce the legal bills generated by action against the NHS, so that resources can be concentrated on front line services. There are numerous ways this can be achieved whether it is by improving overall standards of patient care or by operating a more honest and transparent culture so that legal proceedings are not drawn out longer than they need to be.
Top Areas of Claims Expenditure 2012/13
1) Obstetric and gynaecological
3) Orthopaedic surgery
5) General surgery
7) General medicine
9) Psychiatry/mental health