Freedom of Information requests from the BBC reveal that the NHS in England faces paying out £4.3bn in legal fees to settle outstanding claims of clinical negligence.
This figure includes all current unsettled claims and projected estimates of ones in the future.
The Department of Health has pledged to tackle “the unsustainable rise in the cost of clinical negligence”.
Echoing the thoughts of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), Dianne Yates, partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors, says the rising cost is driven by failures in patient safety.
“While today’s headlines predictably focus on legal fees, the best way to cut costs is to reduce patient harm in the first place,” said Dianne.
“Clinical negligence claims are caused by poor care. The same mistakes and avoidable errors are being made year after year.
“Claims would not exist without negligence by doctors and medical staff – and that’s what needs to be addressed through proper training.”