NHSLA kicks off £400m panel review after several false starts

The tender process for the NHS Litigation Authority’s (NHSLA) clinical negligence and non-clinical negligence legal panels has begun after several false starts.

The contract will last for four years and is worth between £300m and £400m, according to the tender. Legal advice will be divided into three tranches – clinical liabilities, non-clinical liabilities, and regulatory, health and disciplinary law – with the lots expected to spend an estimated £80m, £15m and £5m respectively on legal advice over a 12-month period.

A spokesperson for the authority, which slashed its external advisers from 90 to 15 in 2002, said there are no indications that it is looking to cut the existing panel.

“We’re envisaging appointing approximately the same numbers, but there may be some flexibility, either upwards or downwards,” a spokesperson said.

There are currently 10 firms on NHSLA’s clinical negligence panel and six on the non-clinical panel. The clinical negligence panel, appointed in 2008, features Bevan Brittan, Browne Jacobson, Capsticks, Clyde & Co, DAC Beachcroft, Hempsons, Hill Dickinson, Kennedys, Ward Hadaway and Weightmans.

Browne Jacobson, Clydes, Hill Dickinson, Kennedys, Ward Hadaway and Weightmans are all also on the non-clinical negligence panel along with Exeter firm Veitch Penny. That panel was last reviewed in 2009.

The framework will also be available to various arm’s length bodies (ALBs) under the Department of Health, including the Care Quality Commission, the Health Research Authority and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The tender was initially due to take place in December. A supplier day was also delayed and took place on 22 February.

In the 2011/12 financial year the NHSLA received over 9,100 new clinical negligence claims and more than 4,600 non-clinical negligence claims. It spent over £1bn on clinical negligence claims and around £50m on non-clinical negligence matters.

In April last year the authority appointed NSPCC general counsel Catherine Dixon as its new chief executive, replacing Stephen Walker.