Welsh Conservatives claim that taxpayers are seeing taxes rising due in part to the National Health Service being forced to pay out extremely large sums of money for medical errors and claims of medical negligence brought by medical negligence solicitors. The Conservative group claims that in four years the Welsh board’s payouts for negligence claims have increased by at least 43% and totalled close to £100m in claim payouts in 2017-2018. Four of the seven boards, alone, have paid out nearly £200m over the last half of a decade.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board paid the highest amount over those five years with a payout total of well over £60m. Even more shocking, is that £2.1m of payouts were made for incidents that occurred before 1997. The amount of funds paid out over the last several years equates to over 1.5% of the total National Health Services’ budget. While the Aneurin Board has paid out the highest amount, other boards are being forced to pay extreme amounts of money as well. The Cardiff & Vale University Boards paid £63.6m in five years.
The Cwm Taf University Health Board paid a total of more than £36m. Hywel Dda University Health Board paid £35.3m over this five year period. With the alarming amount these boards are having to pay out, taxpayers are seeing severe increases in health care taxes. What’s more concerning than the tax increases and the amount of money being paid out, is the fact that so many medical errors are being made on a countrywide level.
Angela Burns, a spokesperson for the Conservative party has called for action into figuring out and solving the potential causes for the medical negligence and errors. It’s becoming increasingly important to politicians and citizens alike that the underlying causes for the negligence be discovered and corrected. The enormous lump sum of pay-outs are a reflection of the pressures put on a NHS workforce that is stretched thin, receives and underwhelming amount of resources and is constantly understaffed. Welsh politicians are becoming increasingly frustrated that not a single penny of these sums are being spent to improve patient care, rather pay for mistakes made.
Reports from the Welsh Government claim that the increase in payouts is due to the Government’s change to the regulations placed upon discount rates for medical legal claims. It claims the reasons are “complex” and “vary on a case by case basis,” but attribute some of the issues to increased life expectancy, technological innovation, increases in people suffering from complex complications, and the increasing cost of care.
Welsh Conservatives state that the decision to make changes to the discount rate for personal injury legal claims has significantly increased the cost of settlements for all personal injury medical negligence claims. Wales is not the only country paying out large numbers of money. In England, pay-outs relating to medical claims have risen almost £1bn in the same time period of five years. Government representatives also took the time to stress that it is important to understand that every year, hundreds of thousands of people are receiving high-quality health and medical care in Wales and the negligence cases and payouts only reflect a very small percentage of the patients being treated on the NHS.
Conservative officials urge all NHS workforce to report incidents in a timely fashion so that they may be investigated honestly and openly, and lessons can be learned and corrections to policy and procedure can be made. The NHS has since sought the help of a global expert by the name of Don Berwick to aid the NHS and provide advice on how to create a culture that puts less stress on the NHS.