The rise in negligence claims against GP’s

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The Medical Defence Union (MDU), which provides insurance to the majority of family doctors in the UK, has recently published data showing a 20% increase in clinical negligence claims against GP’s in 2010. The MDU report that clinical negligence claims in general are on the increase but there is a marked rise in cases against family doctors.

The biggest increases in medical negligence claims involve a late or wrong diagnosis, followed by a failure to refer patients to a specialist.

Until recently, clinical negligence claims against GP’s had been fairly static and the MDU cannot account for the increase in compensation claims being commenced in 2010. Some commentators have suggested the rise may have been contributed to by the widespread availability of no win – no fee agreement. However no win – no fee in clinical negligence cases has been available for many years so we think this is an unlikely explanation. The current downtown in the economic climate is a more likely factor along with increased patient expectations.

According to the MDU there is no evidence of deterioration in the standards of care within the medical profession, which continues to strive to provide the reliable service that we have come to expect from the profession.

Looking to the future, with the Government’s plan to remove the availability of Legal Aid for clinical negligence compensation claims, fewer cases are expected to be launched. Funding arrangements such as legal expenses insurance and no win – no fee agreements may well be the only way in which patients are able to bring a medical negligence claim. This is a hugely contentious issue as a balance must be struck between a patient’s access to justice and the Government’s desire to curb the spiralling cost of settling negligence claims; totalling £15 billion in the most recent financial year.

We strongly believe that victims of serious medical malpractice should have the right to claim the compensation to which they are entitled. With the availability of legal aid being restricted we are dedicated to providing a range of flexible funding options including no win – no fee.

So, if you would like specialist advice, call us on Freephone 0808 139 1606 for a free, no obligation assessment of your case and the funding options available. Alternatively, if you prefer a face to face meeting we can see you at any of our offices in Devon and Somerset.