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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Sharp rise in GMC cases behind jump in legal costs, MDU reports

By Nigel Praities

A sharp increase in the number of doctors being investigated by the General Medical Council and lengthier hearings has resulted in spiralling legal costs, the Medical Defence Union has reported.

In the MDU's annual report, the defence body said they has a 15-fold rise in a decade in legal costs for GMC hearings. A Pulse investigation last month revealed cases against GPs were making up a rising proportion of fitness to practise hearings at the GMC.

The MDU also said increases in legal costs - rising to £10.8 million in 2007 – were the ‘most significant factor' in the rise in indemnity payments and condemned legal costs that were ‘out of all proportion to the value of the claim'.

‘When a claim has to be settled, the claimant receives not only damages, but their legal costs are paid. The legal costs frequently exceed the compensation payment received by the patient, and this does cause us to question the proportionality of the current process,' the report reads.

The report lists a number of ‘cautionary tales' from other cases – ranging from doctors accused of assault, not monitoring patients on long-term medication and what to do when faced with an amorous patient – and advises all doctors keep good records of their clinical decisions and keep informed about the risks and benefits of treatments in order to avoid legal action against them.

GMC

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