NHS LITIGATION AUTHORITY: HOW IT MISLED PARLIAMENT
One year ago I wrote about the 2010-2011 NHSLA Report to Parliament and suggested that its statement that “after large increases in previous years we saw new claims volumes for newly reported clinical claims rise by around 30% in 2010-2011″ was misleading and that the truth was very different. (Click here for original piece: https://kerryunderwood.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/nhs-litigation-authority-has-it-misled-parliament/ )
The press picked up on the NHSLA statement and lurid headlines followed with this being used as yet another example of the compensation culture.
I said then that “No such increase ever occurred” and that the true figure, based on other statistics was between 6.67% and 7.51%, an increase indeed, but consistent with previous increases.
The reason behind the apparent increase was a change in the reporting methods, something tucked away on Page 12 of the report, whereas the headline figure was contained in the opening statement of Mr Steve Walker, the then Chief Executive, but no longer in that position.
“Of course next year, based on this year’s higher figure and using the same, new, recording procedure the percentage increase will revert to a true figure, so it is just this one year when the percentage increase is distorted upwards”.
Now it is next year and the 2011-2012 Report has been published.
Was I right?
Yes. This year’s report shows that the number of new claims rose by 6% with clinical claims rising by just 5.6% and non-clinical claims by 6.3%.
These figures are very similar indeed to last year’s true figures, and actually show a slight drop in the rate of increase in the number of claims, and indeed this year’s report recognizes that this year’s increase is “lower than each of the previous three years” (Page 11).
Nevertheless, Mr Tom Fothergill, Director of Finance, persists with the fiction that there was a large rise in claims last year, saying:
“The number of new claims received in the year rose by 6%, a significant increase but a substantially lower one than in 2010-2011.” (Page 11) and
“As the graph indicates, clinical and non-clinical claims grew at a similar rate (5.6% and 6.3% respectively) after the sudden sharp rise of over 30% in clinical claims in the year before” (Page 11).
Mr Fothergill, like Mr Walker before him, knows full well that there was no “sudden sharp rise” – indeed he goes on to say:
“Part of the growth in claims volumes in recent years is attributable to the earlier reporting of claims….”.
In fact the whole of the apparent additional jump last year, over and above the rise of 6% or so, is explained by a change in the reporting system.
Misleading Parliament is a very serious matter. In this case it is even more serious than normal as the misleading 2010-2011 Report to Parliament was the current Report throughout the period that Parliament debated and voted upon the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which became law 3 months ago. That Bill, now the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, largely abolished legal aid for clinical negligence cases and also, through abolishing recoverability of conditional fee success fees, made it far harder for claimants to bring claims.
I am not saying that the outcome of the Parliamentary debates would have been different had this misleading report not been published.
I simply do not know. However, we all know that this was a highly controversial Bill which suffered a record number of defeats in modern times in the House of Lords.
I am not expecting banner headlines in the Daily Mail or The Telegraph.
“NHS claims rise lowest in 4 years”
but I do think that there should now be a Parliamentary Inquiry in to this matter.
If a public body has misled Parliament in a way that has affected the passage of legislation that affects millions of people then that is a most serious matter indeed.
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