Opinion – Managing the costs of clinical negligence in NHS trusts – National Audit Office (NAO)

Citing review of ten years data, the NAO reports that the cost of clinical negligence in NHS trusts is significant and rising fast, placing increasing financial pressure on an already stretched system.

Source: Managing the costs of clinical negligence in trusts – National Audit Office (NAO)

The key findings are:

  1. The cost of clinical negligence claims is rising at a faster rate year-on-year, than NHS funding
  2. Even if successful, NHS Resolution and the Department’s current actions are unlikely to stop the growth in the cost of clinical negligence claims
  3. The government lacks a coherent cross-government strategy, underpinned by policy, to support measures to tackle the escalation
  4. The increase in damages is driven by a small number of high-value claims, while the increase in legal costs is mainly due to a large number of low- and medium-value claims up to £250,000

For me there are probably three fundamentals which this report is too polite to identify.

Firstly, politicians have consistently meddled and provided knee jerk reactions, failing to look at the NHS crisis holistically from a strategic perspective. Rather than radically reform the public health industry, the government is too weak and introducing piecemeal outsourcing which is clearly sub-optimal.

Secondly, the NHS is ineffectively managed, relying upon a narrow group of industry specialists, rather than opening its ranks to world class talent from other sectors.

Thirdly, the various political stakeholders in the UK’s public health industry are typically putting their own interests ahead of patients. In the private sector, there’s a wealth of research confirming the market oriented businesses consistently achieve superior fanancial performance. Within the NHS, there’s a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy to patients, treating them more as children than customers.


Vulnerable consumers in regulated industries – National Audit Office (NAO)

This is an recommended read from the UK’s National Audit Office. It suggests that regulators and government need to work together better to ensure that vulnerable consumers get the support they need.

Source: Vulnerable consumers in regulated industries – National Audit Office (NAO)

For me the scope of this article is understated. For example, what about regulation of the UK airports?

I have recently returned from the US and witnessed far higher levels of service and quality in US airports both on domestic and international flights. Take security as an example, in the US, technology permits scanning of hand-baggage without taking out laptops and toiletries. Why? Well there’s less inertia in the US and consumers are more assertive.

Also US airports are clean, functional and retail outlets offer both quality and value. Generally, customer facing staff are courteous and smiling. So why are things so different in the UK?

I question whether UK regulators are too close to commercial players, at the expense of both consumers and employees?