THE NHS LYING AUTHORITY AT IT AGAIN
The NHS Litigation Authority is at it again – doing what it is best at – misleading Parliament.
In its Annual Report to Parliament and accounts 2013/14, July 2014, the NHSLA states that it “dealt effectively with an unprecedented increase in claims” (Page 18).
That “unprecedented increase” was 17.9%, on the NHSLA’s own figures, in new clinical claims in 2013/14 as compared with 2012/13.
The Oxford English dictionary definition of “unprecedented” is:
“Adjective: Having no precedent, unparalleled; that has not previously occurred”.
In its 2010/11 report to Parliament the NHSLA said:
“After large increases in previous years we saw new claims volumes for newly reported clinical claims rise by around 30% in 2010/11 and by around 6% for non-clinical”.
How, on the NHSLA’s own figures is 17.9% “an unprecedented increase” when, on the NHSLA’s own figures the increase in 2010/11 was “around 30%”?
In my blog NHS Litigation Authority: How it misled Parliament I demonstrated that there was never any such increase and that the true figure was around 7.5%.
Now it is true that based on the true previous figures a genuine increase of 17.9% may indeed be “unprecedented” but the NHSLA has never resiled from its misleading earlier report. By its own figures the NHSLA was lying then or is lying now.
Any which way let us assume that there has been a 17.9% increase; that is undoubtedly significant. May there be an explanation other than a rampant, solicitor fuelled upsurge in compensationitis?
Yes, actually. Tucked away on page 18 appears:
“This significant increase in the number of claims coincided with the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) coming into effect on 1 April 2013. This legislation, including changes to “no win – no fee” arrangements, stopping claimant lawyers charging up to 100% success fees on their costs and banning referral fees.
Prior to LASPO, we saw significant marketing campaigns by claimant solicitors to ensure claimants signed up to pre-LASPO no win – no fee arrangements, which still enable claimant solicitors to charge a success fee on their costs. As a result, the vast majority of claims reported to us throughout the year have been conducted under the pre-LASPO arrangements”.
Quite. Thus there has been an acceleration of claims, but not necessarily an unusual or “unprecedented” increase over and above the usual 7% to 10% annual increase.
Incidentally in its 2010/11 report the NHSLA said this:
“We are delighted that the Ministry of Justice is taking forward the recommendations made by Lord Justice Jackson regarding the costs of civil litigation. We believe very strongly that a regime which allows success fees and the recoverability of after-the-event (ATE) insurance premiums makes litigation so profitable that solicitors and so-called “claims farmers” are drawn into the market thereby fuelling the rise in claims volumes we have experienced”.
Be careful what you wish for.
The Report itself recognizes that this is likely to be a one-off distortion.
“In the shorter term the introduction of LASPO has increased the number of claims received by the NHS under pre-LASPO funding arrangements” (Page 27).
It appears not to occur to the NHSLA that even this relatively modest increase may be caused by increasing negligence by what is at times a dysfunctional body. No negligence = no successful claims.
Next year’s report is easy to forecast. Claims will be up again and the given reason will be that Qualified One Way Costs Shifting allows anyone to bring a claim free of risk.
Oh, in case you did not notice it among the hysterical headlines the total expenditure by the NHSLA on clinical negligence and non-clinical claims dropped in 2013/14 as compared with 2012/13.
One of those hysterical statements was from the Medical Defence Union that hospital claims could cost each taxpayer at least £1,000 a year if inflation continues at the current pace.
In 2013-14 the total cost was £1.244 billion, that is £20.74 per UK resident.
I won’t work out the cumulative effect of inflation but at a straight 3% the cost will rise by 62p per year and it will take 1,613 years before the annual costs will reach £1,000 per person, that is the year 3627.
How about you stick to medicine and leave the truth to lawyers?