Over the last few years medical negligence claims have frequently been in the news. Across the UK, the amount awarded in compensation to victims of clinical negligence is increasing each year. The figures for the NHS in Wales have recently been released and they show a similar picture.
After 6 out of the 7 health boards in Wales released their figures it became apparent that the amount awarded in compensation to victims of medical negligence has doubled in the last three years. This includes payouts exceeding £36 million in the 12 months leading up to April 2012. In total, there have been 1104 medical negligence claims made against the Welsh health boards in the last three years!
Though these figures are in line with what’s going on in the rest of the UK, questions are still being asked about why there has been such a sharp increase in the number of medical negligence claims in Wales.
One of the main areas of focus has been the budget cuts that the NHS in Wales has been forced to make as a result of government cutbacks. Some medical professionals have suggested that it is reasonable to assume that the increase in compensation claims must have some link to the compromises that the health service has been forced to make.
As well as the number of claims increasing, the amount awarded for each successful claim has also increased. These increases have been blamed on the rise in life expectancy, the rising cost of medical care and the increase in the cost of specialist medical equipment.
As a result of these recent figures, the Welsh Government has been forced to put a further £16 million into the ‘risk pool’ which is designed to cover them against the more substantial medical compensation claims. It is expected that next year the amount of compensation awarded to victims will increase again.