The process of claiming compensation need not be adversarial and come at a high cost.
It is our intention to challenge existing models for delivering compensation to keep cases out of the courts wherever possible, minimise legal costs and deliver resolution in its broadest sense, which is about more than just money.
We will extend our use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which we have used to good effect throughout our 21 year history.
It is our experience that when something goes wrong in healthcare, the patient’s main concern is to make sense of the situation and understand what it means for them and their family, including any long term consequences.
Patients and their families also want assurance that the NHS has learnt from the incident to prevent it happening again.
By supporting our NHS trust members to be candid, provide explanations and manage concerns without the fear of subsequent legal consequences, we hope to improve the experience for those involved and jointly deliver the learning which goes hand-in-hand with any claim for compensation.
We already deliver an advice service via the National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS). We will build on this to make ‘peer support’ available for healthcare staff who find themselves struggling with aspects of communication or process when an incident occurs.
As opportunities arise, the dispute resolution service delivered by our Family Health Services Appeal Unit (FHSAU) will be extended to other areas where there is a need for an impartial and independent adjudication of a contractual dispute in the NHS.
It is important that we pay compensation quickly where this is due. We will also maintain a robust approach to the thousands of cases which are brought against the NHS every year where there is no entitlement to compensation or the claim is excessive and build upon our rigorous response to claims fraud.
We anticipate that claimant legal costs will continue to be a challenge and we will take a more prominent role in informing policy development based on evidence.
Our relationship with the NHS is paramount in this and our strategy is informed by wide consultation with our member trusts, NCAS clients and Arm’s Length Body (ALB) colleagues, as well as with our own staff.
A shift in direction means not only increased integration laterally, into a single organisation, but also a commitment to work in partnership with our colleagues in both the healthcare and civil justice systems. Working through and with others will be critical to our success.