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Compensation scheme must not increase NHS costs

Doctors leaders have warned that any new ‘no-fault’ NHS compensation scheme should not take valuable resources from frontline services.

BMA Scottish council chair Brian Keighley welcomed the concept of a less adversarial process to speed up the system and address the blame culture in the health service.

But he added: ‘At a time when major savings are being demanded of the NHS, it is important that any new scheme does not significantly increase costs for the NHS and take money away from patient care.’

On Sunday, the Scottish government launched A Public Consultation on Recommendations for No-Fault Compensation in Scotland for Injuries Resulting from Clinical Treatment.

The document follows the publication of a report by a review group set up to examine no-fault compensation, which proposes a scheme similar to a no-blame process in Sweden.

This would mean that patients who have suffered loss, injury or damage as a result of healthcare treatment could be compensated without having to resort to court action.

Redress important

Public health minister Michael Matheson said it was important that people who had suffered as a result of clinical mistakes should have some form of redress.

He said: ‘It is in no one’s best interests to have that redress delayed because a compensation claim can take years to go through the courts; nor is it in anyone’s interests to have precious NHS resources spent on expensive legal fees.’

Dr Keighley said: ‘The BMA believes that no-fault compensation offers a less adversarial system of resolving the process for compensating patients who have suffered loss, injury or damage as a result of healthcare treatment.

‘A system of no-fault compensation with maximum financial limits would benefit doctors and patients, speeding up the process and reducing the legal expenses incurred by the current system.

‘More importantly, however, it would address the blame culture within the NHS, which discourages doctors from reporting accidents, and would end the practice of defensive medicine.’

The consultation closes on 23 November.