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Only 15% of legal claims against doctors succeed

Around 85% of medical negligence claims find in favour of the doctor, a new review by a medical defence organisation has revealed.

The Medical Defence Union has said that the doctors and patients are having to endure considerable stress and anxiety due to what it calls the ’outdated and adverserial legal system’.

In a review of its Annual Reports 2016,the MDU said that increase in claims since 2012 ‘doesn’t serve anyone well – doctors or patients.’

MDU chief executive, Dr Christine Tomkins, said: ’The costs for the MDU of carefully investigating a case and satisfying the claimant’s lawyers there is no case to answer are significant. On top of that, when we do pay compensation, the size of awards are still rising unsustainably. Claims for £10 million or more are no longer unusual. The recent drastic drop in the discount rate to -0.75% has made matters very much worse.’

MDU chairman, Dr Peter Williams continued, “The current legal system has encouraged a dramatic increase in the number of claims being brought against our members and for the minority of claims where compensation is paid, the sums are rising beyond doctors’ ability to pay for them. This has led to some doctors having second thoughts about taking on higher risk activities.’

It comes as Government changes to the ‘discount rate’, the formula for calculating compensation pay outs for victims in personal injury suits, is set to lead to soaring indemnity rates this winter, which the GPC warns could make general practice ‘untenable’ by autumn.