NHS England paid £2.4BN in clinical negligence cases

Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

In response to an earlier piece on the Herald’s misrepresentation of Greater Glasgow and Clyde setting aside funds to defend cases of alleged failures in childbirth cases.

By stewartb

It’s my view that ‘whataboutery’ is a very different thing from pointing to relevant evidence from elsewhere in order to obtain context and/or perspective. When a ‘big’ number is used it is reasonable – indeed logical – to seek to ascertain whether the number is indeed ‘big’, and by implication ‘bad’, relative to an appropriate comparator.

In a peer reviewed paper in the British Medical Journal in 2020 entitled ‘Clinical negligence costs: taking action to safeguard NHS sustainability’, we learn this about NHS England:

‘The NHS paid £2.4BN (€2.8BN; $3.1BN) IN CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS IN 2018-19, according to NHS Resolution (formerly the NHS Litigation Authority). This sum equates to about 2% OF THE ENTIRE BUDGET FOR THE NHS IN ENGLAND (roughly £115bn).

‘But even these startling figures do not provide the full picture, since NHS Resolution also has to account for claims likely to be received in the future. NOW STANDING AT £83.4BN, THE AMOUNT “SET ASIDE” FOR SUCH CLAIMS IS AMONG THE MOST SUBSTANTIAL PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCIAL LIABILITIES FACED BY THE UK GOVERNMENT, SECOND ONLY TO NUCLEAR DECOMMISSIONING (£131BN).’ (my emphasis)

NHS Resolution is an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). One of its functions is dealing with claims for compensation on behalf of the NHS in England. It manages seven different clinical negligence schemes on behalf of NHS England

From its website we learn this: ‘Obstetric incidents can be catastrophic and life-changing, with related claims representing THE CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE SCHEME FOR TRUSTS’ (CNST) BIGGEST AREA OF SPEND. Of the clinical negligence claims notified to us in 2020/21, OBSTETRICS CLAIMS REPRESENTED 11 PER CENT (1,190) OF CLINICAL CLAIMS BY NUMBER, BUT ACCOUNTED FOR 59 PER CENT OF THE TOTAL VALUE OF NEW CLAIMS; ALMOST £4.2 BILLION.’

Source: https://resolution.nhs.uk/services/claims-management/clinical-schemes/clinical-negligence-scheme-for-trusts/maternity-incentive-scheme/

The House of Lords Library on 29 November, 2021 published a briefing entitled ‘Negligence in the NHS: liability costs’. An easily found document, it includes this:

‘The cost of CNST clinical negligence claims incurred as a result of incidents in 2020/21 was £7.9 billion. NHS Resolution has said that 60% of this cost related to maternity services (£4.8 billion as at 31 March 2021).’

And it notes: ‘EVERY BABY BORN IN THE NHS IN ENGLAND NOW INCURS INDEMNITY COSTS OF £1100. With roughly 600 000 births annually, the NHS PAYS ROUGHLY £12.7M A WEEK FOR THE COSTS OF OBSTETRIC HARM. The rise in costs is widely regarded as unsustainable. Spending on clinical negligence is increasing much faster than funding for the NHS, TRIPLING IN THE DECADE FROM 2009. That means that the proportion of scarce NHS resources going to litigation instead of care is worsening.’

Data for NHS Scotland can found on the website of CNORIS, the Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme and NHS National Services Scotland (NSS). It’s tempting to place the Herald’s piece in the relevant NHS Scotland context too but this btl contribution is already too long!

3 thoughts on “NHS England paid £2.4BN in clinical negligence cases

  1. In my Secondary School days and upon entering 4th yrs Maths
    The Teacher was very quuick about informing the class that the Human Brain
    Is almost entirely incapable
    Of understanding large numbers and consequently her 1st week of lessons would entirely consist of of how to deploy the very simple trick of firstly round up / down to nearest 10 (make a note of what you + or _ was )
    Then use the power of 10 to yield a visually and mentally low number
    Do your calcs bring back what you rounded up/down
    Bingo you have a comprehenisble result
    What do any think £ 250 M.is used by all MSM when referring to ferry contracts,and constantly repeated at every chance
    ( Big clue Euro lottery jackpot often over £ 150 million )
    But fragmented and quick references to Westminster huge monetary wastes, never to be referred to again
    Answer this
    What does £ 250 million really mean when put in context
    Then what does £ 3 trillion look like, far less put it context
    You have now mesmerised
    Your audience
    Westminster and the MSM are none other than SPIVS


  2. Computers and calculators now make available more accurate statistics. Easy access to the internet can hold the misinformed to account and be shared.

    Lies and misinformation can be found out and shared. Relatively more easier.


  3. There are only three NHS’s in the world like ours, England, N.Ireland and Wales.

    These are all we have to compare relative performance. Comparison is context not whataboutery.

    Just about all comparisons say that SNHS performs better than the others in all the major areas.


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