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Medico Legal

Fixed fee proposals welcomed – with reservations

New Government proposals for fixing legal fees in medical negligence cases have been given a cautious welcome by lawyers.

The proposals, currently out to consultation, are for a fixed cap on all clinical negligence cases up to £25,000. The aim, says the Department of Health, is to prevent rising litigation costs within the NHS. Currently, there is no limit on legal costs that can be recouped. It is expected the new cap will save the NHS up to £45m a year.

The department cites an instance where costs of £83,000 were claimed for a case in which the patient was awarded £1,000. The total bill for the NHS was £1.5bn in the financial year 2015-16.

Announcing the proposals, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said: “It’s important that, when significant mistakes happen in the NHS, patients are able to have an open dialogue with a trust about what went wrong, receive reassurance of what is being learnt and can discuss what form of recompense or redress may be appropriate. Legal action should only be one part of this process.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 12:52

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One year on, MedCo is dealing with start-up glitches

In may the annual conference of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers was addressed by Lord Faulks, then minister at the Department of Justice (pictured). Among the subjects of his address was an appraisal of the first year of operation of MedCo, the body set up by the government to facilitate the sourcing of medical reports in soft tissue injury claims brought under the MoJ’s new Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents.

Lord Faulks said: “The new portal introduces much needed independence and breaks the financial links between the solicitors who request medical reports and the medical experts and organisations who provide them. MedCo is also about improving the quality of reports and is introducing a robust new accreditation scheme for medical experts.”

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Cost of private practice claims rockets

Compensation claims for multi million pound sums against GPs and consultants in private practice have risen three-fold over the last decade, according to figures released in March by the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

In 2015, the MDU settled 12 compensation claims for more than £1m on behalf of its GP and consultant members. By contrast, in 2005 just four settled claims exceeded the £1m mark and in 1995 only one patient received over £1m in compensation from the MDU.

Over the past three years alone more than £100m has been paid out by the MDU to compensate patients and pay legal costs in 36 medical negligence claims that exceeded £1m. The highest amount paid out by the MDU was £9.2m to compensate a patient rendered tetraplegic after spinal surgery and to pay legal costs. In another case, involving a GP, £8.5m in compensation and legal costs was paid for a missed diagnosis of a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 June 2016 09:36

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What is a pain medicine specialist?

Your Expert WitnessDr Stephen Humble MBChB MSc PhD FCARCSI, a consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine at Medicolegal Associates Ltd outlines below exactly what a pain medicine specialist is and role they take as expert witnesses.

A pain medicine specialist is a doctor with specialised training and expertise in all aspects of the diagnosis and management of painful conditions. The field encompasses a wide spectrum, including acute, chronic and cancer pain. In the UK, pain medicine is a subspecialism under the auspices of the Royal College of Anaesthetists. The vast majority of British pain specialists are therefore consultant anaesthetists who have undergone a significant additional period of specialised training. This typically takes the form of an accredited full-time pain fellowship within a recognised pain management centre as part of a (RCoA) pain training programme.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 April 2016 10:21

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When ‘never’ in the NHS really means 1,000 times

Your Expert WitnessAnalysis by the Press Association of data on so-called ‘Never Events’ in the NHS was widely reported in February. Never Events are described by the NHS as ‘serious incidents that are wholly preventable, as guidance or safety recommendations that provide strong systemic protective barriers are available at a national level and should have been implemented by all healthcare providers’.

According to the data, nearly 1,200 such events were reported in the period from April 2012 to the end of December last year – 290 in 2012-13, 338 in 2013/14, 306 in 2014/15 and 254 from April to the end of December 2015.

The NHS says: “Each Never Event type has the potential to cause serious patient harm or death. However, serious harm or death is not required to have happened as a result of a specific incident occurrence for that incident to be categorised as a Never Event.”

Last Updated on Monday, 25 April 2016 10:10

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