Scottish indemnifier urges Scottish government to speed up reform of the controversial personal injury discount rate
Scotland’s largest GP indemnifier has urged the Scottish government to speed up reform of the controversial personal injury discount rate and stop punishing costs hampering NHS frontline services.
MDDUS has written to justice secretary Michael Matheson asking him to move quickly on important reforms in the handling of clinical negligence claims. In particular Mr Matheson has been urged to review the personal injury discount rate which is having a major impact on clinical negligence claims.
In 2017 the Scottish government decided to follow the UK Government’s decision to change the rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%. This decision has had a significant impact on the size of compensation payments in personal injury cases where there is an element of future care costs and earnings. Last year the NHS in Scotland spent a staggering £38.3m on clinical negligence claims.
MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said: “We were extremely disappointed when the Scottish government chose to follow the line taken by Westminster in changing the discount rate. The impact on claims has been significant and we have successfully convinced Westminster that the rate must be reviewed again.
“Now the Scottish government must give clarity on what it plans to do to address this issue. We fully accept that there must be reasonable compensation for patients harmed through clinical negligence but this needs to be balanced against society’s ability to pay.
“This is money that could be spent on frontline care. Given the wider pressures on the healthcare system, the rising cost of clinical negligence is already having an impact on what the NHS can provide.”
The Scottish Government has announced that the Damages Bill will form part of its programme for 2017/2018 but so far there has been no announcement on when the bill will be introduced and no publication of consultation process and responses to the bill.
Mr Kenny added: “We are pleased that in Westminster, the Ministry of Justice changes proposed will reform the methodology for setting the discount rate. This will help make sure that the rate more accurately reflects the way in which claimants choose to invest their compensation payments. This will help create a fairer system all round. It is vital that these changes are now brought in as quickly as possible both north and south of the border.”
MDDUS is a not-for-profit mutual funded by its members, representing around 85% of the medical indemnity market in Scotland.