Legal & Finance: Clinical Negligence Bill Will Harm Claimants

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Byline: By John Duckers Business Editor

Government plans to introduce a new law dealing with clinical negligence will have serious implications for thousands of potential claimants, according to a Midlands lawyer.

Clare Langford, a clinical negligence solicitor at Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons, believes the NHS Redress Bill debated by Government will seriously impact on people's access to justice and entitlement to compensation.

"The rationale was to simplify the procedure for victims of negligent medical treatment to bring a claim for compensation and offer a more speedy resolution.

"The reality is claims for compensation under pounds 20,000 will be dealt with internally by the NHS Litigation Authority without the need for legal proceedings."

The NHS Litigation Authority would conduct the investigation and as to whether they believe there had been negligence. Only if it were deemed appropriate would they make an offer of compensation - without necessarily admitting liability.

Ms Langford, a solicitor in Higgs' personal injury team, went on: "The intention of the proposed Bill to improve and quicken the current procedure is welcomed but it is in need of serious reform.

"The NHS Litigation Authority is an arm of the NHS, but it would be acting as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury in determining whether there had been an act of negligence and whether it was appropriate to pay a sum of compensation. …