How much Medical Negligence Claims UK cost to NHS?


Since the tort revolution came out in 1957 for medical negligence claims in United Kingdom, the National Health Service has to be more careful for maintaining healthcare standards in its hospitals. All medical practitioners working under this trust also have to comply with the specified rulings otherwise they could be charged with negligent practice. According to new tort law,  Bolam test is used to verify a medical negligence claim – It checks whether practitioners had performed according to health-care standards defined by a group of responsible medical experts, even though there is a medical group in opposition of the standards.

Bolam test is just a fraction of the procedure for deciding whether there are any grounds for a medical negligence claim or not. There is a series of steps required to be performed for validating a negligence claim. At the outset, a claimant has to show if there was a duty of medical care between patient and the doctor. This duty of medical care is not something to be taken lightly in UK law – this duty defines how much is to be expected from a medical person and what could be reprehended through medical negligence claims UK.  Once duty of medical care is established, here comes the role of  Bolam test which assesses the reported incident to find out when and how medical standards have been breached by the doctor.

In Bolam assessment it is mentioned that if doctor’s actions are found to be reasonable by a responsible group of medical professionals of the same field, he will not be accused by medical negligence claim. But if there is no any responsible medical body certifying doctor’s practices, Bolam test will hold the doctor responsible for negligent practice. Same is the ruling for NHS hospitals that will have to face medical negligence claims UK if they fail in meeting acceptable health-care standards.

As indicated in a recent report issued by ‘National Audit Office’, there is huge bill of 4.4 billion pounds for medical negligence claims due on National Health Service. Over the past one year this compensation bill has got higher by half billion pounds.  On an average, National Health Service has to deal with more than 20,000 medical negligence claims UK every year, and each case takes almost eighteen months to settle. However, these figures could be somewhat misleading since these are mere estimates made on the basis of outstanding number of claims put against NHS – many of them would go unresolved while many would be solved out of the court.




If we look at the accounts of NHS during 2007-2008, we find a total payout of 550,000,000 pounds for medical negligence claims. Though this sum is just less than 1 percent of total NHS budget, but still concerns are high. Gradually, this expense is rising every year that makes the scenario thought-provoking. Therefore, NHS is weighing up reforms to restrict medical negligence claim cases.