Tribunal Should Hear Medical Negligence Cases Says Judge

Leading medical negligence judge, Lord Justice Otton has called for the creation of a new medical negligence body, along the lines of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

In proposals to be considered by the Department of Health, patients would only have to show that their injuries were sustained because of what occurred in hospital and not prove negligence on the part of a particular doctor.

Otton says that proving negligence was an onerous task and yet great financial hardship often arose in such cases.

His plan involves the amount of compensation being fixed by a panel of doctors rather than cases being dragged through the courts.

Many judges, he says, are not equipped by their training, expertise or experience to carry out the risk benefit analysis required in such cases and often had to rely on expert witnesses to guide them.

The proposed scheme involves claims below £10,000 being considered by a specially appointed clinical risk manager for the hospital who would assess the level of compensation payable.

Claims between £10,000 and £500,000 and very serious cases would be heard by a medical injuries compensation authority, he recommends.

Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow has taken up the judge’s proposals with the Department of Health