Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Published at 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK


Health

Doctors want no fault compensation

Hundreds of mistakes are made every day in hospitals

Doctors have called for a "no fault" medical negligence compensation system to speed up payments to victims of medical blunders.

BMA
The British Medical Association conference in Belfast heard that both victims of medical negligence and doctors accused of making mistakes would both benefit from a "non-adversarial" scheme.

The NHS is currently facing a £2.8bn bill for medical negligence claims and GPs are now 13 times more likely to be sued than they were 10 years ago.

Legal wrangling means that the average case takes six years to settle from the time a complaint is lodged and only 10% of victims ever see any compensation.

But payments have soared in recent years - in 1989, the biggest single payout was £770,000; in 1998, it was £1.7m.

Conference representatives backed a motion calling for the introduction of a no-fault scheme.

Woking representative Dr Dennis Newberry said: "The majority of patients who suffer from medical mistakes never receive any money.

"A few get significant amounts of money, but the only regular winners in this process are the lawyers."

He added: "The effective solution is to ensure that people get reasonable levels of compensation and remove the concept of fault - and the lawyers - from the process.

"The system is good for patients and good for doctors."

800 medical mistakes a day

Dr David Pickersgill, chair of the BMA's Medical Legal Committee, said recent research had shown that 800 medical mistakes are committed in hospitals in the UK every day.

More than 15,000 cases are currently at some stage in the legal process and the Medical Protection Society receives more than 1,000 calls a week from doctors worried they may be sued.

He said: "Personal injury claims and suing doctors has become an exponential growth industry amongst the legal profession.

"We cannot begin to imagine the stress and personal trauma and the anguish suffered by our colleagues who face legal action in these circumstances.

"This is one issue on which we can agree with (Health Secretary) Frank Dobson - NHS resources would be much better spent on improving patient care than settling legal claims."

Dr Pickersgill said: "Patients have a right to receive adequate levels of compensation, but we must find a more satisfactory way of delivering this than in the adversarial system of the courts."



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

06 Jul 99†|†Health
Junior doctors: We will win

05 Jul 99†|†Health
Doctors sick of ministers' medicine

05 Jul 99†|†Health
GPs to continue meningitis vaccine fight

05 Jul 99†|†Health
NHS under threat - doctors' leader





Internet Links


British Medical Association

General Medical Council


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99