The £2billion-a-year NHS pay system needs a radical overhaul, say MPs

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The £2billion-a-year NHS pay system needs a radical overhaul, MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee – chaired by Jeremy Hunt – said today (pictured –

The NHS compensation scheme – which costs the taxpayer around £2billion every year – is ‘not fit for purpose’, MPs have warned.

A drastic overhaul is urgently needed of the current scheme, which reimburses patients who suffer harm in the health service.

That is the view of the Health and Social Care Committee, led by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Payments should be made faster and less should be spent on legal fees, they said.

The current system for families is often “slow, adversarial, stressful and often bitter,” the committee added.

Its focus must shift from a culture of blaming individual doctors to one where system-wide failures are recognized and lessons learned, according to the MPs’ report.

Last year the negligence bill soared to £2.17billion in compensation and legal costs, up from around £900million in 2011.

This is equivalent to the annual running costs of the largest hospital trust in England or four medium-sized hospitals.

That cost is expected to double over the next decade to £4.6billion, with a quarter of that money going to lawyers, the committee said.

NHS negligence payments in England have risen from £900million to over £2billion in a decade.  The graph shows: The amount paid under the clinical negligence regime from 2013 to 2021

NHS negligence payments in England have risen from £900million to over £2billion in a decade. The graph shows: The amount paid under the clinical negligence regime from 2013 to 2021

GPs told not to use language that could put patients down

Woke doctors are calling for an overhaul of the language doctors use in appointments so as not to belittle patients.

Phrases such as “taking” a test or “sending” someone home make patients feel “like children”, they said.

‘Denies chest pain’ should be described as ‘reports no chest pain’, while ‘patients failed with medication’ should be changed to ‘medication was not effective for the patient’, they have affirmed.

The phrase “poorly controlled diabetes” can also be stigmatizing and make the patient feel judged, doctors said.

The comments were made by Dr Catriona Cox and Dr Zoe Fritz, from the University of Cambridge.

They presented an argument for more empowering language in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

They argued that the change “is not about political correctness”.

Instead, they say simple words can “insidiously” affect the relationship between doctors and their patients.

Mr Hunt said: ‘The NHS patient negligence compensation system is long overdue for reform.

“We urge the government to adopt our recommendations to reduce both the number of tragedies and the spiraling costs for the NHS.

“Under the current system, patients have to fight for compensation, an often bitter, slow and stressful experience.

“We need a better system that learns from its mistakes, like countries like New Zealand and Sweden.

“We need to move from a culture of blame to one that puts the prevention of future harm at the heart of what it does.”

The committee said the current system is focused on clinical negligence which, by definition, seeks individual failings and is adversarial.

“In other countries, gains are made through careful system-wide analysis rather than an insistent search for individual errors,” the report says.

“We urgently need a system where the highest priority is the prevention of future damage.

“This system should look at the facts and circumstances of a case and compensate patients not based on clinical negligence, but on medical error or failure to follow best practice.

“Any investigation should prioritize identifying changes to the system that can be disseminated across the NHS to prevent mistakes from being repeated.”

Removing the need to prove clinical negligence will increase the number of people entitled to compensation, MPs said.

But they added that “the evidence from countries that have taken such an approach is that the overall costs will be lower, not higher.”

They also called for an independent administrative body to investigate cases and determine eligibility for compensation in the most serious cases.

The current system also pays more to the wealthiest children, MPs said. They said, “A cleaner’s child gets less than a banker’s child.

“This contradicts the fundamental principle of equality that is at the heart of our health system.”

Prior to any court case, all cases must go through non-judicial mediation and other methods to avoid legal channels first.

In addition, lifetime payments – which are fixed at a point in time rather than reviewed over a claimant’s lifetime – should be scrapped and replaced with upfront compensation “within weeks of a claim”.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director of the Medical Protection Society (MPS), said MPs were “right to stress the need for a radical overhaul of the clinical negligence system”.

He said: “We need reforms to make court costs more proportionate and to make things fairer and more transparent which will in turn reduce soaring costs.

“In our testimony at this inquiry, we expressed our concern that the system is neither fair nor appropriate for families and children who suffer from birth injuries.

“The proof-of-fault process is very stressful and time-consuming for everyone involved, and reinforces a culture of blame that acts as a barrier to learning.”

He added: ‘The government is committed to publishing a proper clinical negligence strategy in 2018 and while there have been more pressing priorities we cannot lose sight of that.

“We need a commitment to take bold and quick action if we are to get closer to solving this problem.”

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