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Competency comes first

The NHS' approach to clinical negligence claims undermines the true value of human life. This must change if relevant bodies can work together, says Michael Williamson

19 November 2013

The latest report from the National Audit Office kicks off the perennial debate about how much of the NHS budget has to be spent on clinical negligence claims. We are talking largely about the cost of successful claims that our courts, applying the law of this country, consider justified.

There are two ways to save money. One is not to foul up in the first place. The other is not to play brinkmanship when you do. Who says? It isn't the rapacious 'fat cat' lawyers on conditional fee agreements who make rules for their own benefit. It's the law of country. If we can't or won't improve the standards of performance, the other way of reducing claims is to lower standards.

Instead of an objective evaluation of what could and should be achieved or avoided, we have a quota system. For instance, one in five, one in 10, or however many birth defects is an acceptable fail rate.

Faced with a claim, all the health service does is point to the stati...

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