Information released by the Department of Work and Pensions Compensation Recovery Unit has shown an increase of more than 18 percent in the number of compensation claims for hospital negligence against the NHS in the past year.
The Compensation Recovery Unit of the DWP is the government department which recovers certain state benefits paid to successful compensation claimants who have been the victim of hospital negligence and the cost of any NHS care they may have received while recovering from their injury.
In 2012/2013, the Compensation Recovery Unit registered 16,006 compensation claims for hospital negligence against the NHS – an increase of 18.4 percent over the corresponding figures for 2011/2012 (13,517) and up by 80.3 percent of the numbers of claims made against NHS hospitals in 2007/2008 (8,876).
The increase in compensation claims for hospital negligence against the NHS was no surprise following the shocking findings of the Francis report, and it prompted a leading medical solicitor to claim that victims of hospital negligence no longer have moral reservations about claiming compensation against the NHS.
The solicitor´s views were mirrored by the Chief Executive of the Patients Association – Katherine Murphy – who said “I think the public has become far less tolerant about putting up with appalling failings in care, but most people only pursue legal action when every other avenue has failed” and Margaret Hodge – chairperson of the Commons Public Accounts Committee – described the figures as “deeply worrying” and stated that the quality of healthcare provided by the NHS was a “major concern”.
A spokesman from the Department of Health commented “Whilst we know the vast majority of patients get good, safe care, the best way to reduce compensation claims is to improve patient safety further – and this is a priority.” He added that the NHS has outsourced help with the aim of creating “a zero-harm culture in the NHS” and reduce the number of compensation claims for hospital negligence against the NHS.