Claims that the NHS has paid out billions in medical negligence claims and that the UK rivals the US for the compensation culture crown have been dismissed by a specialist lawyer as “scaremongering”.
Bill Braithwaite, QC, a personal injury lawyer, lambasted the report from a leading think tank last week as being “enormously ignorant and one-sided”.
The Centre for Policy Studies report claimed that the NHS had paid out £65 billion for medical claims, draining it of vital funds. It argued that the UK’s medico-legal bill was now £24 a person, compared with £9 a person in the US, despite that jurisdiction’s reputation as being more litigious. The report also said that annual payouts in the UK for the year ending March 2016 were £1.4 billion, a figure that it claimed was increasing by 10 per cent every year.
But Braithwaite – the head of Exchange Chambers, a barristers’ set in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester – described the report as “misinformation”. According to the silk: “The £65 billion is a ridiculous projection over many future years, using scaremongering assumptions.”
The QC also criticised the report’s recommendation that loss of earnings claims should be limited and that private insurance should be used as a top-up. “That would attack the very basic principle of compensation, acknowledged by the government, that the object is to put right the wrong that has been done,” he said.
The lawyer said that ministers and the public alike should “remember that the foundation of every successful claim is negligence by doctors and medical staff – and that seems to be getting worse”.