NHS Ambulance Chasers Rake in Sickening PS418m in Legal Prof Its; Medical Blunder Cases Net Law Firms Record Haul in a Year INVESTIGATION

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

NHS Ambulance Chasers Rake in Sickening PS418m in Legal Prof Its; Medical Blunder Cases Net Law Firms Record Haul in a Year INVESTIGATION


Byline: Stephen Adams HEALTH CORRESPONDENT

GRASPING law firms charged a record PS418 million after pursuing cases of medical blunders against the NHS last year.

The astonishing bill from 'ambulance chasing' solicitors has leapt PS126 million in just one year - representing a 43 per cent rise on the previous year.

And some greedy lawyers have been accused of pulling in 'grossly inflated' fees, many times what their clients have received in compensation, a Mail on Sunday investigation has found.

The PS418 million bill would pay for 19,000 new nurses for the NHS - or 25,000 kidney transplants.

The rise comes despite a Government pledge to crack down on the 'excessive costs' charged by some solicitors.

In June last year, the then Health Minister Ben Gummer promised to cap the amounts law firms charged the NHS in cases where damages were under PS100,000.

But new figures from the NHS Litigation Authority [NHSLA], which fights medical negligence cases on behalf of hospitals and other providers of care, show the problem is getting worse - with some legal companies brazenly submitting huge fees for relatively minor matters.

While the legal costs of claimants have soared to PS418 million, the costs of defending the cases by the NHS has risen by only PS17 million to PS120 million.

Cases identified by The Mail on Sunday include: ? A firm that tried to sting the NHS with a PS25,000 bill for a pressure ulcer case that led to damages of just PS1,000 - but ended up having its fee slashed by more than 80 per cent; ? A second firm attempted to overcharge in a skin cancer case to the tune of PS50,000 - submitting 'disproportionate' costs of almost PS113,000; ? A third case in which lawyers submitted a bill almost 50 times the PS1,500 damages awarded to their patient, who had suffered a delayed diagnosis of a viral infection.

All three firms in the cases above - which have not been identified - had their fees cut by judges, according to information from the NHSLA. Partners at top medical negligence firms typically earn six-figure salaries, while top earners can be paid more than PS1 million a year.

Last night a leading MP criticised law firms for seeking legal fees that were 'grossly inflated and morally questionable'. …

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