The current system for delivering compensation can be costly and could work better. Legal costs are disproportionate and cases are often pitched into litigation prematurely. High numbers of claims are brought where compensation is not recovered and claims for damages can be excessive, resulting in the parties taking polarised positions.
We know that claims are often pursued in search of an explanation or acknowledgement that something has gone wrong. Patients and healthcare staff do not want to find themselves in court proceedings, particularly when care is ongoing. Our experience of mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is that a more effective solution can be found, when the court process is set aside, and the ambiguity and range of views which often exists can be properly explored.
The claims we handle fall broadly into two categories which need different approaches. 33% of annual expenditure comes from obstetrics, which represents 10% of claims received. The share of the provision relating to obstetrics is very much higher given the growing Periodical Payment Order (PPO) liability. The bulk of this cost involves brain injury at birth and so will be the main area of focus for our shift upstream. For lower value claims, legal costs exceed damages threefold and so our efforts there will be focused on how these claims can be resolved in a more proportionate way.