Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:43AM
This file photo shows an NHS sign in front of Westminster, the UK Parliament building in London.
This file photo shows an NHS sign in front of Westminster, the UK Parliament building in London.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has allocated almost a quarter of the annual health budget to cover legal claims involving medical negligence.

The NHS Litigation Authority, which is responsible for handling negligence claims made against NHS bodies, has set aside £26.1 of its annual 113 billion budget to cover existing liabilities, British media reported on Monday.

The large allocation of funds comes as lawsuits against the NHS have doubled under Prime Minister David Cameron.

Recent figures from the Litigation Authority revealed that 11,945 lawsuits were filed against the British healthcare service over 2013-2014, compared with 6,562 in 2009-10.

Michael Wade, a former Lloyd's of London insurance executive, has warned that the large cost of NHS compensation is untenable.

“How on earth is that affordable?,” said Wade, adding: “It's perfectly reasonable to raise the flag and say 'We need to sit down and think about this'.”

1,000s of UK patients dying unnecessarily

 

The latest data was revealed just a day after British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that some 1,000 patients die unnecessarily every month in hospital due to blunders by health workers.

Hunt described the large rate of deaths as “the biggest scandal in global healthcare,” calling for sweeping reforms.

The health minister is expected to present new plans to fine up to  £100,000 hospitals which are dishonest about their medical mistakes, as such cover-ups prevent officials from learning about and applying measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.

This comes as NHS staff have been working under increasing workload amid the government’s cuts to the health service, with leading healthcare professionals warning that NHS is at a “breaking point.”

Under Prime Minister Cameron, the NHS has suffered the longest period of funding restraint in its 66-year history, resulting in the layoff of over 7,000 NHS clinical staff members, including doctors and nurses.

NHS heading downhill

Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed has recently said that most NHS workers believe Cameron’s reforms to the healthcare have led to poor patient care.

“The vast majority of NHS staff now say David Cameron’s NHS reorganization has harmed patient care,” said Reed at the time, adding: “The sad truth is that, by turning the NHS upside down with a damaging reorganization and causing a crisis in A&E, this government has made care problems more likely, not less.”

The current British government launched austerity measures when it came to power in 2010 in a bid to tackle the country’s burgeoning debt and sluggish growth, but the policies have sparked public protests in recent years.

CAH/GHN/HMV