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Hospitals accused of clinical negligence could get free pass

NHS hospitals responsible for patient deaths as a result of clinical negligence may get a ‘free pass’ at inquests should the Government’s proposal to cap legal costs come to fruition, a lawyer has warned.

The lawyer also suggests that coroners hearings will become much shorter, and lessons that could be learned will become missed opportunities.

Those with limited means are often represented on a no win no fee basis. The hearings of such cases are often considered the best opportunity for investigating errors and making recommendations for improvements that may help hospitals avoid cases of clinical negligence in the future.

However, the Government’s new proposals suggest that those who lose negligence cases will not have to pay the claimants legal costs if a claim is worth less than £25,000.

The lawyer maintains that this would make it extremely difficult for the average person to find lawyers who are able to hold hospital bosses to account in an inquest.

He said: “Inquests these days are much more searching than back in the day, and you often need specialist solicitors and barristers.”

“We risk going back to the days when hearings are just two hours long and rely on evidence only from a consultant working at the hospital concerned.”

He also added that “You will get families finding there is no accountability.”

The Government are also proposing a cap on the amount that can be awarded to claimants to cover the cost of expert evidence.

Under the proposal, claimants would be restricted to £600 for expert fees, however, most experts quote a fee of £1,000 to £2,000 to prepare a report, meaning that the remainder of the cost would be left for the claimant to cover out of their own pocket.

A spokesperson for leading patient safety charity – Action against Medical Accidents highlights that without the preliminary report many victims of clinical negligence would stand little chance of compensation as they would be unable to assess the strength of their case in the first place.

Pursuing a clinical negligence claim can often be a complex process which is why it is so important to find a solicitor that specialises in this area. Too many firms add clinical negligence into their general portfolio of personal injury practitioners without having clinical negligence solicitors.

At Thorneycroft Solicitors we have a dedicated team who specialise in this field alone. We work with the most experienced medical experts, ensuring their involvement from the outset of the claim to offer advice and guidance.

There to advise you through each step of the process, from the initial advice to possible treatment if required, we pride ourselves on our professional but caring approach.

If you would like to find out if you could bring a claim, call us for free on 0800 1979 345 or complete our online enquiry form by clicking here.