Andrew questions NHS litigation costs

In a debate on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee's new report 'Will the NHS never learn?' held by the Committee's Chair, Bernard Jenkin MP, Andrew asked about the Government's cap on litigation costs.

Andrew said:

"I congratulate my hon. Friend for his work, and that of his Committee, on producing the report. He is absolutely right about HSIB and the need to underpin it properly. The Government have said that they would cap litigation costs at £100,000. I think my hon. Friend would accept that there will always be litigation, even if we get a more satisfactory means of redressing grievance, in the way he has suggested. Does he think that that cap would be appropriate, particularly since motor costs, for example, ​are capped at that level? Would that mean that people with grievances would be properly compensated while, sadly, their lawyers would not be?"

Mr Jenkin: 

"I confess I am not sighted on the proposal to cap litigation costs, but people resort to litigation only because they feel that their complaints are not being heard and that the problems they have identified in the service are not being addressed. People resort to litigation because they do not feel they are being told the truth. We know from our surgeries that most people who complain come in and say, “I only want to make sure this doesn’t happen to somebody else. I don’t want compensation.” Nevertheless, because that public-spirited attitude to complaining is so often rebuffed in the health service, people resort to litigation because they feel there is a cover-up.

"In other fields, such as aviation and marine investigations, where this kind of investigative process is already established and is designed to find the causes of accidents without blame, there is far less resort to litigation at the outset. That does not preclude litigation in the final analysis, but discovering the truth without blame is the first step towards reconciliation."