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James Bell: Cutting Legal Costs to NHS Severely Impacts on Patients' Access to Justice

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical Negligence

This is an interesting article.On the one hand, the beleaguered Justice Minister, Ken Clarke, declares that NHS legal costs (but only Claimant's lawyers costs) must be cut as the £100m per annum bill is far too much and can no longer be afforded by the UK. On the other hand the Health Secretary is pushing through a series of reforms that are described as a "a lawyers’ heaven", by Colin Talbot, a professor of Public Finance at the University of Manchester Business School.

He states that… "We learnt last week that National Rail employs 600 lawyers. But this will look paltry compared to the numbers the NHS will need to employ in ten years’ time if the current plans are implemented".Those 600 lawyers are fully occupied in squabbling between Network rail and the privatised train companies. 

The message from those in power seems to be that lawyers who deal with contracts between multitudinous private / NHS service providers are "good lawyers" and no doubt , "necessary for patient care". On the other hand lawyers who act for those injured by negligent doctors and nurses are "bad lawyers" who deserve public criticism as "greedy" and shaming as "ambulance chasers".Any costs savings by implementation of the Jackson reforms is small beer compared to the huge legal costs that will follow the proposed NHS reforms. 

Further evidence, therefore, that the Jackson reforms are not about costs savings but are politically motivated and simply about reducing access to justice for those who need it most.

James Bell is a Principal Lawyer in the Slater and Gordon Lawyers clinical negligence team. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.