The study examined the current system for claiming for medical negligence in Scotland. It was commissioned to inform the work of the No-fault Companesation Review Group, which was established to consider the potential benefits to patients of the introduction of a no-fault compensation scheme for medical negligence claims in Scotland.
Findings suggest that patients' grievances, complaints and even claims are not necessarily related to a specific medical event but rather to communication problems, staff attitudes and poor general care. An improved complaints procedure would give complainants a greater sense that they were listened to and that lessons were learnt from their complaint.
The settlement of a claim is influenced by a range of factors. This includes the level of experience of the pursuer’s solicitor in medical negligence claiming and the financial value of the claim. Relatively small value claims appear less likely to result in settlement. In those which settle, the cost of dealing with the claim often exceeds the award. The research suggests that small financial claims might be better dealt with through a complaints system which permitted a moderate level of financial payment in some claims.
The study explored the potential expenditure implications of a no-fault scheme based on the analysis of data on closed cases. Estimates were calculated based on a range of assumptions about how a no-fault system might operate as well as costs of the current system in recent years. At the lower end estimates for a no-fault compensation scheme would be similar to the cost of existing schemes whilst at the upper end, costs could increase by one half.
A no-fault scheme will not necessarily address non-clinical aspects of care. It is therefore important that any new scheme is linked into the wider process by which patients attempt to resolve disputes.