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New figures from NHS Resolution have revealed that the health service spent eight per cent more last year than the year before defending clinical negligence lawsuits.
NHS Resolution, the body that defends claims against doctors, said that the total spent on legal fees in 2018-19 was £139.6 million, up from £128.9 million the year before. However, the amount covering the legal costs of successful claims fell by more than £24 million to £442.3 million.
The NHS received only five more new clinical negligence claims than the year before, at 10,678. Compensation overall rose by more than 13 per cent to £1.393 billion, with individual claims in several cases settling for more than £20 million each.
The Medical Defence Union, which insures doctors, said that the rise in costs was placing an enormous strain on the NHS, claiming that the £2.36 billion paid in compensation to claimants ‘could have funded over 15 million MRI scans or 112,000 liver transplants’.
Helen Vernon, NHS Resolution’s chief executive, said: “We set ourselves a challenge to disrupt the traditional approach taken to clinical negligence claims, to encourage mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution and to reduce the number of claims going into formal court proceedings.”