To deal with the rising number of individuals claiming to be compensated for alleged negligent behaviour by doctors, surgeons, physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers the government created an independent organisation called the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) in 1995 to defend the state against such claims. The authority does not deal with cases relating to G.P. and other private practices but there will always be an organisation responsible for any medical practitioner under the wing of national health service funding. If the healthcare organisation is privately funded (such as a BUPA facility) the claimant will generally be pursing compensation from the appropriate insurance company. Some key facts released by this organisation are:

• In 2003-04, 6,251 claims of clinical negligence and 3,819 claims of non-clinical negligence against NHS bodies were received by the NHSLA. This compares with 7,798 claims of clinical negligence and 3,667 claims of non-clinical negligence in 2002-03.

• £422.5 million was paid out in connection with clinical negligence claims in 2003-04. This figure includes both damages paid to patients and the legal costs borne by the NHS. In 2002-03, the comparable figure was £446.2 million. The figures for non-clinical claims are £10.1 million for 2003-04 and £21.3 million for 2002-03.

• The average time taken to deal with a clinical claim under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts, from notification of the claim to the NHSLA to the date when damages are agreed (or the claim is discontinued), is 1.36 years.

• The NHSLA estimates that its total liabilities (the theoretical cost of paying all outstanding claims immediately, including those relating to incidents which have occurred but have not yet been reported to us) are £7.78 billion for clinical claims and £0.1 billion for non-clinical claims.

• An analysis of all clinical claims handled by the NHSLA since its inception in 1995 shows that 35% were abandoned by the claimant, 43% settled out of court, 1.5% settled in court in favour of the patient, 0.5% settled in court in favour of the NHS and 20% remain outstanding.

You can visit the NHSLA website at http://www.nhsla.com, currently they do not seem to own the http://www.nhsla.co.uk website.

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