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A task force of experts has been instructed to examine a possible change in the way patients could obtain compensation from the NHS.

Medical Negligence claims currently require the victim’s solicitor to prove that the problem was caused by the NHS or its staff, that they had a legal responsibility to prevent the problem occurring and that there was clinical negligence.

A ‘No-Fault’ style of approach is being suggested which would mean that while the injuries would still need to be shown to be related to the treatment, the patient would not have to establish any responsibility or blame.

This proposed system of claiming would mean that time delays for patients making compensation claims might be advised.

A No-Fault’ system would allow patients who have contracted hospital acquired infections such as MRSA or C-Diff to make claims more easily without having to show that the hospital was in breach of his duties.

Frank Maguire, Senior Partner for Thompsons, was on the expert group for Hepatitis C cases which came up with a no fault payment scheme although the Government failed to give the awards recommended leading to under compensation (Skipton Fund).  The expert group had also looked into claims for compensation in general against hospitals.

Mr. Maguire said "It looks at first initially attractive but where does one draw the line.  Does it mean that all persons whose treatment does not turn out the way it was meant to will be entitled to compensation.  If not, who would be entitled if not based on the traditional threshold of negligence.  ‘No fault' compensation can also often mean under compensation and massively so especially for those who are seriously injured or for relatives of loved ones who have died.  This is what happened to the Skipton Fund.  There has also been considerable problems in New Zealand who have a no fault compensation scheme.  There are also very low payments in for example similar schemes such as Criminal Injury Compensation or Pneumonicosis Etc. (Workers Compensation) Act 1979.  We must also be wary of Insurers who may see this as an opportunity to canvass a cheap alternative for their own benefit; such as can be seen in the Republic of Ireland."  We wait with interest to see how such issues are tackled by the task force.

We are acting for clients suffering from MRSA or C-Diff in claims for compensation.

The expert report on the issue is expected to be submitted to the Scottish Government in 2010.

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