Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) faces a huge bill for legal fees linked to claims of clinical negligence, according to a BBC report.
A Freedom of Information request from the broadcaster revealed that the NHS faces paying out £4.3 billion in legal fees to settle outstanding claims. This figure includes unsettled claims and estimates of future claims.
Estimates published last year put the total cost of outstanding compensation claims at £83 billion.
The Association of Personal Injuries Lawyers (APIL) blames failures in patient safety for the costs.
The BBC quoted APIL’s Suzanne White as saying that people often found it difficult to get answers from the medical authorities – and were left with no other option but to take legal action.
She added that although only 10% of claims relate to obstetrics, they account for 50% of compensation, as a child injured at birth often needs a lifetime of care.
Britain’s Department of Health said, however, that there had been no decline in patient safety.
Meanwhile, doctors represented by the Medical Defence Union (MDU) are calling for a “fundamental” reform of the current system, including an independent body to assess claims, according to the BBC.