The NHS, including NHS trusts and foundation trusts (trusts) are legally liable for any clinical negligence by their employees. Since 1995, NHS Resolution (the operating name of NHS Litigation Authority from April 2017) has provided indemnity cover for clinical negligence claims against trusts in England, through its Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (the Scheme). The Department of Health (the Department) oversees NHS Resolution and develops policy to manage the costs of clinical negligence. NHS Resolution is responsible for dealing with claims, including funding defence costs, and any legal costs or damages that become payable. From 2006–07 to 2016–17, the number of clinical negligence claims registered with NHS Resolution each year doubled, from 5,300 to 10,600. Annual cash spending on the Scheme quadrupled over this period, from £0.4 billion to £1.6 billion. The estimated cost of settling future claims has risen from £51 billion in 2015–16 to £60 billion in 2016–17. There are two main factors contributing to the rising costs. First, increasing damages for a small but stable number of high-value, mostly maternity-related claims. These accounted for 8% of all claims in 2016–17, but 83% of all damages awarded. Second, increasing legal costs resulting from an increase in the number and average cost of low-value claims. Over 60% of successful claims resolved in 2016–17 had a value of less than £25,000.
29 November 2017