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GPs want no-fault medical compensation scheme

GPs want no-fault medical compensation scheme

GPC UK should research a no-fault medical compensation scheme, following a ground-breaking legal case where a GP was successfully sued, LMC leaders have said.

This would replace the current tort-based system in the UK. 

In a landmark legal case last year, a spina bifida patient successfully sued her mother’s GP Dr Philip Mitchell for ‘not advising folic acid supplement’.

Proposer of the motion, Dr Hayley Haworth from Cambridgeshire LMC, told the BMA UK LMCs conference: ‘Many of us felt it could have been us.’

She said: ‘We are all human, and error, unfortunately, is inevitable.’

Dr Haworth added: ‘Blame and punishment of an individual is often inappropriate when intentions were good but the outcomes were not as [good].’

A no-fault medical compensation scheme would replace the current tort-based system, which Dr Haworth said ‘engenders fear and leads to defensive medicine which is costly to the patient’s NHS’. 

She said: ‘In a time when the NHS is on its knees and GPs are leaving the profession in their droves, a radical overhaul of the NHS compensation systems to a no blame alternative might offer some relief from the overwhelming fear of complaints and litigation. I ask that GPC research the benefits of this model.’

Speaking against the motion, Manchester LMC chairman and BMA medico-legal committee chair Dr Simon Minkoff said that moving to a no-fault compensation scheme poses ‘several challenges’. 

He said: ‘Claims will increase, payouts will increase, costs will increase. There’s no evidence that lessons are learned following no-fault claims.’ 

Speaking in favour of the motion, Londonwide LMC deputy chief executive Dr Lisa Harrod-Rothwell said the current system ‘does not allow for deserving patients to be compensated swiftly.

‘Therefore, the clinician and patient live under the shadow of litigation for longer than necessary, often with significant personal and professional impacts.’

The House of Commons health and social care committee suggested last month that an ‘administrative system’ should replace litigation when patients come to harm in the NHS.

In addition to a ‘no-blame’ system, the committee also recommended that the outdated system of assuming any follow-up care for patients that have come to harm would be paid for privately should be abolished.

Last year, clinical negligence litigation cost the NHS £2.17bn – up from £900m 10 years ago.

Motion in full:

CAMBRIDGESHIRE: That conference notes the recent ‘folic acid’ legal case in the media, and supports GPC UK researching the benefits of a no-fault medical compensation scheme to replace the current tort-based system, with the intention of providing this data to the government to add weight to their patient-centered reviews, particularly assessing whether a no-fault scheme would: 

(i) reduce GPs’ anxiety associated with possible litigation and therefore reduce defensive medicine – PASSED

(ii) improve doctors’ and patients’ experiences of resolving a claim, particularly with regard to mental health impact – PASSED 

(iii) improve patient safety by enabling doctors to more freely admit to adverse events and share learning from these episodes – PASSED

Source: BMA

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John Glasspool 15 May, 2022 12:46 pm

Never going to happen: parliament is full of lawyers. They are not going to vote to decreas the income of their colleagues.

Richard Greenway 16 May, 2022 2:15 pm

No fault compensation will save huge amounts in legal fees on both sides, and speeds up payout times for complainants. It works well in New Zealand and has done for years.
Of course costs won’t go up – as payouts are centrally agreed to a tariff.
The main beneficiaries of medical litigation in the UK are in my view the legal profession who benefit from huge chunks of the payouts.