The NHS handed over record compensation of more than £1.4 billion last year – almost double the amount paid out five years ago.
The figure is revealed in the annual report and accounts of NHS Resolution, which acts as an in-house insurer for hospitals, GPs and other health services.
In the report, NHS Resolution chairman Ian Dilks lauded the organisation’s achievements but admitted: ‘The elephant in the room, even if in this case it is now being talked about, remains the cost of clinical negligence.’
The NHS handed over record compensation of more than £1.4 billion last year – almost double the amount paid out five years ago
Part of the reason for the rise was the inclusion of a new indemnity scheme for GPs, which added £40 million to the bill.
The annual report also shows there were a record number of clinical claims cases in which damages were paid out, rising ten per cent in a single year to 7,523.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the NHS should ‘get a grip’
Perhaps most controversially, the amount paid out to lawyers in clinical negligence cases hit a new high, with legal firms receiving £641 million in total, or £1.75 million for every day of the year.
Patients’ lawyers received £497.5 million – just £1 million shy of the all-time record set three years ago.
Lawyers employed by the NHS bagged a record £143.5 million, up six per cent on 2018-19.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the NHS should ‘get a grip’. He said: ‘This new figure is truly shocking.
‘It’s right and proper for clinicians to have insurance, and patients deserve compensation when things go wrong.
‘But the sheer growth in the number of claims, pay-outs and legal fees is alarming.’
Ministers are planning a so-called ‘fixed costs’ plan to cap legal fees in cases where damages are less than £25,000 and Mr Dilks said: ‘We hope a way can be found to significantly reduce the cost to the public purse at no detriment to justice.’