Debates between Lord Faulks and Lord Bethell during the 2019 Parliament

Clinical Negligence

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Bethell
Tuesday 3rd March 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell
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The noble Lord has teed up a difficult question for me. The truth is that too often, as my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay said, the biggest payments are made in the area of obstetrics, where lessons should and could be learned, regarding not the shortage of staff but the techniques and responsibilities of those who are concerned. The Government are very determined to put right any gaps in practice in that area.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, further to what the noble Lord, Lord Storey, said, in fact the amount that NHS Resolution has reserved for claims is £83 billion. May I suggest to the Minister that, as well as looking at Section 2(4), which I am sorry to say the Government do not seem to be looking at, they review the question of the discount rate, among other things, which has resulted in such huge claims? They should also bear in mind the effect that these claims have on clinical practice. I declare an interest as having practised in this area for the last 30 years.

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell
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The noble Lord is absolutely right; the total sum of money for claims on the liabilities book is second only to the potential costs of cleaning up our nuclear industry. He is also right that the discount rate is a critically important part of this extremely complex area. It is true that, in 2017, a change to the personal injury discount rate added significantly to damages awards over and above existing drivers. However, that increase was subsequently unwound in August 2019, following the introduction of the Civil Liability Act 2018, and the Government project that it will partially reduce the impact of PIDR in future claims.