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Medical Negligence Solicitor James Bell discusses The Social Cost of Litigation

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical Negligence

I see that Claimant personal injury lawyers are under attack again from a familiar source - a right wing think tank, who (wrongly) think that Personal Injury claims against schools and the NHS are out of control.
 
See report here - http://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/original/120905122753-thesocialcostoflitigation.pdf
 
The report has been commissioned by the right wing; Centre for Policy Studies and the author of the report is a Professor Frank Furedi, a British sociology professor based in Kent.
 
Prof. Furedi has an interesting background - he was the leader of a 1970s Trotskyite sect called the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) who championed contrarianism and later libertarianism. It later moved overtly to the far right.
 
The RCP set up a magazine, Living Marxism, in 1988 which delighted in arguing against the mainstream views of society. The magazine took a contrarian step too far in 1997 when they claimed that 1992  ITN news films of Serb concentration camps for Bosnians were fictitious and  that ITN and their journalists had misrepresented an image of an emaciated Muslim, Fikret Alic, at the Serb-run Trnopolje camp in August 1992. A libel claim brought by ITN and two journalists succeeded and Living Marxism had to fold - it was unable to pay the judgement debt of £375,000 awarded against them.
 
Clearly, the Living Marxism network are not fans of the UK justice system.
 
In his report, Prof Furedi calls for a no fault system of compensating victims of Medical Negligence but makes no suggestion as to what this would cost or who would administer it.   
 
Prof Furedi also calls for new curbs to be placed on the “culture of litigation and litigation avoidance” in Britain. He states, “We need to look beyond ambulance-chasers and greedy lawyers to the cultural conditions that have allowed litigious sentiments to flourish as common sense,” he said. “In particular, we need to challenge the expectation that professional ‘best practice’ in the public sector should be measured by the absence of complaints or litigation.”
 
In most successful modern private businesses (e.g. Amazon / EBay/ Trip advisor) the satisfaction rate of past customers is a very useful way for prospective customers to measure performance.
 
I fail to understand how refusing to measure complaints or allow litigation is the way forward to improve patient care in the NHS.  I do not feel that this report, with its heavy reliance on anecdotal evidence and newspaper articles, has added to the general debate about improving patient safety.

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By James Bell, Medical Negligence Expert.

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