Medical negligence claims against the National Health Service (NHS) rose by almost 20% since last year, and 80% since 2008. Projections show that the surprising rise in the number of lawsuits will likely cost the NHS 1/5 of their national budget, roughly £19 billion.
These figures have observers deeply worried about the situation, and people are no doubt asking what caused the spike. Analysts agree that it’s not because national healthcare is falling below standard, it’s that patients are lowering their tolerance when it comes to clinical negligence and hospital attitudes in handling them.
The main motivator in seeking a negligence claim for most people isn’t money, but information. They want to know what went wrong and what the hospital will do to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. This is a reasonable request that seems mad to be denied, but denied they are.
This trend is a problem for both economy and culture. If the number of claims continues to rise, healthcare may strike a heavy blow to the government’s ability to spend in the future for other projects. Authorities from the Treasury are moving forward cautiously as this is issue has very sensitive and overreaching implications.
On the one hand, they recognise that no matter how good the healthcare, mistakes will happen, and victims of such mistakes should receive compensation. However, they need to balance that against people who try to take advantage of the system by demanding amounts disproportionate to their claim.
A Change in Culture
In order to have significant change in the health sector, hospital attitudes need to change. In cases where a patient is denied information by the hospital, they are forced to turn to legal measures for help. The Government ends up shouldering the burden for a healthcare culture that refuses to admit wrongdoing without the intervention of a court.
The NHS, Treasury, and hospitals involved need to get up to speed on this trend or deal with dire consequences in the future. If attitudes and policies remain unchanged on this issue, a large cloud will hover over the state of the country’s welfare for years to come.