Pilot Scheme for Clinical Negligence claims
Clinical Negligence claims recently escaped being taken into the expansion of the RTA and EL portal but the NHS Litigation Authority has revived its own proposals for managing claims under £25,000. Their proposal takes the form of a pilot scheme on which views are currently sought.
The scheme is aimed at relatively low value claims brought against (mainly) NHS Hospital Trusts and the stated aim of the scheme is to enable claims worth under £25,000 to be deal with “fairly, promptly and at a proportionate cost”.
It is proposed that the pilot scheme will run for 6 months or until 1500 cases have entered the scheme. Entry into the scheme will be voluntary and access to the scheme will be only via a Solicitor who is accredited by APIL or on the Law Society or AvMA Specialist Panels.
Excluded from the Scheme will be any cases where there is a co-defendant who is not a member of the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (as most Hospital Trusts are) e.g. where a GP is a Defendant as well as the Hospital, any Welsh cases already dealt with under their Redress Scheme, Human Rights claims and multi-party actions.
Notification of a claim under the scheme will not equate to service of a Letter of Claim under the Clinical Disputes Pre-Action Protocol which means that if the claim is not dealt with satisfactorily, the Claimant may then have to go through the Protocol as well.
The proposed procedure involves registration of the claim following which the NHSLA will have 4 weeks to respond by either admitting liability, facilitating an apology from the healthcare provider. If liability is not admitted an indication will be given as to whether expert evidence is needed. Alternatively liability may be denied at which stage the claim will exit the Scheme. The Scheme envisages a number of further stages and includes provision for arbitration as a means of resolving issues between the parties.
Although the scheme is said to be voluntary, there may be “costs consequences” if a claimant does not pursue an eligible claim through the scheme. As might be expected, amounts paid in respect of legal costs are limited.
Costs are restricted to fixed amounts, as with the current Portal. Costs allowable range from £500 where there is an early admission at Stage 1 through to a maximum of £3500 and that includes £500 to Counsel for the arbitration and £1000 expert fees.
No start date has been given for the Scheme which is still the subject of discussion between the NHSLA, APIL and AvMA.
If you or anyone you know has suffered or is currently suffering due to Medical Negligence, speak to Roberts Jackson Solicitors for free legal advice and support. Call 0800 001 4496