The government has set up a new Civil Justice Council (CJC) working group to develop a better process for medical negligence claims.
The working group will be chaired by Andrew Parker, a leading defendant insurance lawyer. He is the former president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) and a current solicitor member of the CJC.
The vice-chair will be David Marshall, a leading medical negligence lawyer. He is the former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and currently chairs the Law Society’s civil justice committee.
Why has the working group been set up?
Currently there is no limit on legal costs that can be claimed back by lawyers for all medical negligence cases.
In some cases, the legal costs claimed by lawyers far exceeded that than the award to the patient.
As the NHS does not have unlimited funds and resources, it cannot afford to add to the medical negligence bill for legal costs, which already topped £1.7b in 2016/2017.
The working group will be tasked with looking at the current claim process in place, and coming up with changes that could help the NHS save money.
This money can then be put into patient care.
Tasks for the working group
The working group has been put together to consider and recommend an improved process for medical negligence claims worth £25,000 or less.
The working group must draw up a structure for Fixed Recoverable Costs (FRC) for these cases to attach to the new process. They must also produce figures for FRC in the proposed structure and the cost of expert reports.
As part of their recommendations, they will need to consider whether the proposed changes would compromise patient safety and access to justice.
The new system will need to have a way in which case outcomes are reported back to the healthcare providers for learning purposes.
The working group must consider how expert reports should be commissioned and funded as part of the improved process.
When will they publish their recommendations?
The working group are expected to post their recommendations by the end of September 2018.
We will be eagerly awaiting their report on the possible changes to medical negligence claims.