Tom Brake – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Tom Brake on 2015-10-26.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he made of the potential effect of his plans for improving patient safety and zero harm on reducing the cost of clinical negligence before taking forward proposals for a fixed-costs regime in clinical negligence.

Ben Gummer

We are planning to consult on the introduction of the fixed cost regime for clinical negligence claims where the damages awarded to claimants are less than £250,000. This forms part of our over-arching objective to minimise adverse incidents and provide an efficient, cost-effective approach to litigation. In doing this we are seeking to improve patient care by reducing the incidence of clinical negligence, improve customer care by ensuring the National Health Service is responsive to users; and ensure there is an appropriate and cost effective legal process in place for claimants and defendants.

In advance of this work a pre-consultation exercise was undertaken with a wide range of bodies representing the views of patients, lawyers, bar organisations, professional bodies, NHS organisations, private healthcare providers and Welsh interests. Issues raised by these organisations included: access to justice, impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; patient safety; and the avoidance of unnecessary costs in clinical negligence cases. These views will be rehearsed in the proposed consultation document and will inform decisions that are made following the consultation exercise. Respondents will have the opportunity to provide comments on the proposals, which we have been developing with the Civil Procedure Rules Committee.