£1.3 billion held by NHS for clinical negligence claims relating to Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic placed widely publicised unprecedented strains on the NHS and its resources. For many covid and non-covid patients this meant their appointments and treatment being routinely cancelled or delayed. For those patients who were able to be seen by a doctor, appointments were often conducted remotely by telephone or video. There is now a huge backlog of patients, with a reported 7.1 million people in the queue as of September 2022.
The feeling has always been that these sorts of issues would eventually have a meaningful impact on clinical negligence claims. However, the full impact is yet to be seen and is not entirely clear. A lot of individuals are perhaps only just becoming aware of the consequences for them now.
It was therefore interesting to see recent news articles confirm that for 2021/22 the NHS (which already pays out about £2.2 billion each year in compensation and legal fees each year) has set aside a further £1.3 billion in funding in anticipation of a flood of Covid-19 related claims. This is more than double the £500 million that was set aside in 2020/21.
According to the reports £470 million has been held for claims relating directly to the treatment of Covid, £610 million has been held for indirectly related claims such as delayed and missed diagnosis cases (often relating to patients with cancer), and the remaining £220 million has been held for claims relating to the administration of vaccines and other matters.
The obvious conclusion to draw is that the NHS and NHS Resolution are now expecting to see a surge in these types of cases over the coming months.