The Scottish Government is committed to ending the blame culture that exists around medical negligence claiming. We want to develop a new system of compensation that fits with our focus on prevention and improving the quality of care outcomes, as well as our aim to improve openness and transparency across NHS Scotland and promote a culture of constant learning and improvement.
In April 2014, Alex Neil MSP, the then Cabinet Secretary for Health, confirmed our commitment to ensuring that "any patients harmed as a result of poor clinical treatment have access to redress in the form of compensation, where this is appropriate, without the need to go through lengthy court processes". His announcement also explained that we would seek to explore the complexities of the scope, shape and development of a no-fault compensation scheme for Scotland.
Careful consideration has since been given to possible approaches, which would meet this commitment and provide access to financial redress, where appropriate. Importantly, we are looking to establish a person-centred scheme which is trusted as fair by patients and staff alike, which will reduce legal costs and for the majority of people, the need to go through lengthy and costly court processes. Importantly, it also needs to fit with our existing NHS feedback and complaints procedures.
This consultation paper seeks your views on draft outline proposals which combine a new approach for dealing with compensation for avoidable harm (up to £100,000) with improvements to the existing legal process.
The outline proposals detailed below take account of important changes and improvements introduced since the initial work, undertaken by Professor Sheila Mclean's No-fault Compensation Review Group, which reported in 2011. For example, our Person-Centred Health and Care Programme, the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, the Patient Charter, the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014), the review of the NHS Feedback and Complaints procedures, the national approach to learning from adverse events through reporting and review and the new statutory Duty of Candour procedure.
All of these policies seek to further develop our NHS to be as person-centred as it can be and to continually strive to improve the patient experience and the safety of the services it provides. Staff are required to be open, honest and transparent. Under the feedback and complaints process, adverse event reporting and the new Duty of Candour arrangements, the patient (and their families) should be informed when and why an error, which has resulted in harm, has occurred.
The draft outline proposals reflect this and seek to ensure that the scheme is easily accessible for those who have been affected and that the NHS shares vital learning through reporting and review, which will in turn reduce the number of adverse events.
I would welcome your considerations and responses, which will help us refine and finalise a No-blame Redress Scheme for Scotland, to be progressed in the next Parliamentary session.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport