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James Bell: Reasoning Behind Recent Rises in Claims Against GPs

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical Negligence

The. Medical Defence Union (MDU)  is one of the biggest private insurers. It acts for GPs and all kinds of doctors in private practice. It has recently recorded a 20% rise in claims.
Between 1896 and 1909 the MDU recorded just 405 claims against their members. 5 claims succeeded and all the others failed. The compensation payouts ranged from £25 to £100. The figures are incredibly low.
The reason for the recent large increases in claims against gps can be explained by 5 major factors.
  • We live in an atomised society. There is no social connection between the patient and the gp for many people. We no longer doff our caps when they cycle past us.
  • The internet - doctors diagnoses can  double checked by patients on their smartphone immediately after their consultation. Knowledge is power.
  • Access to justice/ expertise - In 1896 only the very wealthy could instruct a solicitor and most solicitors would probably not know what to do with such cases
  • Experts-we have access to a vast database of experts who are prepared to act for Claimants.The same cannot be true of 1896. All of our solicitors undertake only clinical negligence claims and do not dabble in other areas of law.
  • Decreasing ability of GPs -the elephant in the room may be that actually doctors training is not as good as it was and/or they are too pressurised in terms of the their time to always focus properly on patient care.