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#GPnews: GP indemnity organisations slam litigation costs review

16:30 Defence organisations have expressed disappointment at the latest recommendations to cut the cost of litigation.

Responding to Lord Justice Jackson’s review of Civil Litigation Costs directors from both MDU and MPS said his conclusions - which recommended setting up a working party to examine fixing costs for clinical negligence claims valued at up to £25,000 - don't go far enough.

Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director said: 'Today’s review of litigation costs is the latest in a series of consultations that have taken place on the issue of how to make costs more proportionate to compensation paid to patients. Each time, the proposals seem to be more watered down in terms of having an impact on the overall burden to the NHS of the tide of litigation. Today’s review is no exception and is likely to further delay implementation.

'Patients who believe they have been negligently harmed must have access to justice, but fixed costs are fairer and could, and indeed should, be applied to all cases valued at up to £250,000.

'In lower-value claims, claimant lawyers’ fees are still, on average, above the level of damages awarded and that cannot be right. If these proposals are only applied to the lowest value cases then the problem will not be fully addressed.

'The rising tide of litigation is having a dramatic effect on the medical profession and the NHS more widely. The current system makes no sense and creates too many perverse incentives. It needs root and branch reform.”

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said:  'Lord Justice Jackson’s review has taken a very narrow perspective on the question of fixed recoverable costs in medical negligence cases, with a proposed limit of £25,000, and fails to engage with the wider impact of unjustified litigation on the NHS and GPs.

'We will be happy to participate in the proposed working party, but this report underlines the need for the Department of Health to complete its more holistic and thorough review (with the benefit of the many and detailed submissions to which Jackson will not have had access) and produce more balanced and ambitious action.

'The Department of Health must do more than simply rubber stamp Jackson’s recommendations in this complex field. Today’s small step does not come close to turning around the cost and litigation tanker.'

14:30 England's three-year, £10m trial of providing HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep) on the NHS has been given a 1 September start date.

As the BBC reports, NHS England had fought against having to fund the drug, which has been shown to reduce HIV infection risk by 86%, but lost a court case on the matter last year.

London, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield are expected to go first in the trial, with other areas following from next April.

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: 'The priority must now be to make sure that the trial reaches everyone at risk of HIV, and that it is rolled out speedily across the whole country, by the end of this year at the very latest - spring 2018 is not soon enough.

'To make sure no-one at risk of HIV is left behind, it is crucial that at the end of this trial, a clear process for routinely commissioning Prep on the NHS is agreed.'

Labour's shadow minister for public health Sharon Hodgson said: 'The start of the PrEP trial is welcome and long overdue after months of delays and heel-dragging by the Government.

'The evidence shows just how transformative this drug can be as part of our approach to HIV prevention and ending the transmission of this life-changing infection. This trial will take us one step closer to fully understanding the benefits of PrEP.

'Now it is important that this trial is rolled out as quickly as possible across the country to protect individuals who are exposed to HIV and help take us one step closer to ending the spread of HIV in society.'

11:15 Incidentally, BME representatives are meeting with the RCGP to discuss the important issue of CSA pass rates today.

GPC representative Dr Preeti Shukla tweeted that the issue 'needs tackling'.

09:40 This morning we reveal that the RCGP has failed in its ambition to ensure the gap between white and BME doctors passing their Clinical Skills Assessment exam.

In fact, the gap is now the widest ever recorded.

Read the full story here.

Seen something interesting? Email newsdesk@pulsetoday.co.uk or tweet @pulsetoday with the hashtag #GPnews

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