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Litigation, redress and making amends
  1. Geoff Hughes
  1. Correspondence to Professor G Hughes, Emergency Department, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide, Australia 5000; cchdhb{at}

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Unless you make a career out of writing medicolegal or injury compensation reports, are responsible for handling complaints in your institution or department or have been sued for negligence, it is unlikely you will know much about the NHS Litigation Authority or the 2006 NHS Redress Act.

In August the NHS Litigation Authority published its annual report.1 Although it is rather dry to read and will not excite you unduly, it does have some interesting facts to note. If you read it you will find all you need in the first few pages.

  • £769 million was paid for clinical negligence claims during 2008/9, up from £633 million in 2007/8 in England, a 21% rise.

  • Nearly half of the £807 million paid out by the authority in 2008/9 was spent on lawyers.

  • There is a fourfold increase in clinical negligence costs for the NHS in the last decade.

  • Legal fees exceed the sums paid to patients in two-thirds of cases where compensation is under £50 000.

  • Of the 8885 clinical and non-clinical claims where a formal letter of claim was received in 2008/9, fewer than 4% will go to court.

  • In 2008/9, 6080 …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.