BMA seeks compensation without litigation
5 December 2012
Any no-fault compensation scheme should improve patient and clinician experience and not divert money from frontline care, the BMA has said.
The BMA response to the Scottish government’s No Fault Compensation consultation says any such scheme must be structured in a way that would help patients avoid the costs, stress and delays of going through the legal system.
It says: ‘A no-fault compensation scheme has the potential to offer significant advantages to patients and doctors in terms of reducing delays and stress.’
The Scottish government is consulting on introducing a no-fault scheme following the recommendations of a review group. However, the group said claimants should retain the right to litigate, which causes the BMA some concern.
Threat to doctor-patient relationships
The BMA adds: ‘While the Scottish government research concluded that most cases would at least start in a no-fault compensation scheme and the volume of cases going to litigation would be reduced significantly, we nonetheless have concerns that retaining the two systems and the right to litigate would mean there would still be a potential threat to the doctor-patient relationship.’
Removing the threat of litigation might encourage better communication between doctors and patients when explaining the nature and causes of mishaps, and encourage doctor accountability to patients, the BMA says.
But it cautions: ‘There must be clear and careful consideration given to the extent of the scheme, with more detailed information about potential costs.
‘At a time when major savings are being demanded of the NHS, it is important that any new scheme does not increase costs to the NHS and divert money away from patient care.’
The Scottish government is considering the consultation responses.