Lawyers are not the guilty party when it comes to medical negligence

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has questioned whether clinical negligence lawyers are blocking vital reforms because the status quo is too lucrative to change.

Hunt, the chair of the health and social care committee, spoke following a two-hour hearing on the merits of non-adversarial systems in other parts of the world.

The committee had earlier heard from health leaders in Japan, New Zealand and Sweden who reported they had a lower compensation bill as a proportion of their healthcare bill, as well as much better safety rates than the UK.

Mr Hunt and his committee have already urged the government to end the adversarial element, and it is understood that ministers continue to consider whether to bring legislation.

Mr Hunt’s implied criticism of clinical negligence lawyers is grossly unfair.

The goal of the majority of lawyers is a genuine passion to improve medical procedures so patients do not suffer needless injury.

Many lawyers have also suffered a medical procedure “gone wrong” themselves.

In my case, I was misdiagnosed for over 12months, and underwent surgery to insert a shunt into my brain to drain fluid which remains in place to this day. All along I had meningitis but my body fought for 12 months without antibiotics. I hope this never happens to anyone else.

The £10,000 in compensation I received in 2000 was nothing compared to a year of my life taken away lying ill in a hospital bed.

Anyone who has suffered from clinical negligence will tell you that no amount of money is sufficient. However, the knowledge that a case made public will highlight the issue and stop it ever happening again to someone else goes a long way to recovery.

Hilary Meredith-Beckham