Lawyer bashing is on the agenda this week. The Jackson Report is back in the news and this week the media will be full of stories regarding 'fat cat' Clinical Negligence Lawyers and dutifully churning out bogus Ministry of Justice figures without checking any of them.
It's now time to demolish some myths about the Jackson Report:
Myth 1: Lawyer’s bills massively outweigh Defendants bills. Legal bills are more than the damages.
"Ipswich Hospital paid out more than £1million in clinical negligence compensation to patients in the last financial year, it emerged today. The hospital paid a total of £1,047,262 to victims of clinical negligence in 2007/08. Legal costs also saw it spend £189,115 on its own lawyers' wages, and £108,877 on paying for the cost of claimants' legal fees." Source: Ipswich Evening star 26.3.2009.
Myth 2: NHS being crippled by massive legal bills.
The NHS budget is around £100 billion a year. The amount of damages paid to claimants was £264m in 2007-8 and legal costs for the claimant’s Solicitors came to £90m. So claimant’s costs are 0.9% of the NHS budget.
Myth 3: Lawyers are cherry picking easy cases and trying to claim 100% on those claims.
No, in an answer in the House of Commons to a question on the 3rd May 2007, it was stated that for 2006/7 there were 6538 clinical negligence claims of which 49.07% were closed with damages paid.
Myth 4: Patient care is improving. Claims are unjustified. Everyone is suing the NHS for no good reason.
Prof Trevor Sheldon, the author of a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2007 , said a stay in hospital was as "risky as bungee jumping". He examined medical notes from one hospital over six months and said the results were representative of what is happening across the country.
Researchers found that between 8.7 per cent and 10 per cent of hospital stays involved "adverse events" and up to a half were preventable. In 15 per cent of cases the adverse event led to impairment or disability that lasted for more than six months and increased the average stay in hospital by eight days.
The study did not include patients who were in hospital for less than a day, or had mental health problems or gave birth. Extrapolated across the NHS it means that 90,000 people a year die in NHS hospitals due to medical mistakes.
Ken Clarke’s changes to civil litigation are designed to upset the playing field and will give the NHS and Doctor’s defence unions the upper hand in clinical negligence litigation. The number of law firms undertaking this specialised work will shrink and Clinical Negligence Solicitors will be forced to become yet more risk adverse.
If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.