Opinion Former Article

Legal reform needed to tackle rising NHS compensation costs, says MDU

Responding to a report by the BBC today on the rising cost of NHS clinical negligence claims, Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director, said:

“As this report shows, for too long huge rises in the cost of NHS clinical negligence claims have been allowed to continue unchecked. Awards well over £10million are not unusual and this is no reflection on clinical standards, which remain high. It is because of a legal system which has driven up the cost of paying compensation using NHS funds to unaffordable levels.

"By law the NHS must fund compensation payments on the basis of care being provided privately and this inflates awards massively. There was also a drop in the discount rate in 2017 to minus 0.75%, the lowest it has ever been. This immediately doubled the cost of high value claims. A claim worth around £8million in 2016 is more likely to result in a payment of over £17million now.

“Paying multi-million pound sums to individual patients diverts huge amounts of NHS money from wider patient care and must not be allowed to continue. Patients who are negligently damaged by the NHS must receive appropriate care and treatment, but the NHS cannot continue to pay such huge sums. The MDU has long argued that only radical legal reform will halt the rising costs of claims for the NHS. This must be a priority for the government.”


The MDU is a not-for-profit organisation wholly dedicated to our members’ interests. Our team is led and staffed by doctors with real-life experience of the pressures and challenges faced in practice.

We offer our members expert guidance, personal support and robust defence in addressing medico-legal issues, complaints and claims. Our customised services range from legal assistance to indemnity to appropriate CPD.


Dawn Boyall, Laura Baker or Thenuka Mahendrarasa in the MDU’s press office

t:     020 7202 1535/1504/1541
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e:    dawn.boyall@themdu.com, laura.baker@themdu.com, thenuka.mahendrarasa@themdu.com
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