Welsh Conservatives have slammed the ‘staggering’ £600+ million allocated to cover the cost of clinical negligence and personal injury claims against the NHS.
The most recent figures indicate the Welsh Government have provisioned £682m to Welsh Risk Pool Services – the organisation responsible for reimbursing Welsh NHS bodies for losses in excess of £25,000.
The Tories are now strongly pressing for an “urgent inquiry into its medical practices”.
The Welsh Government have stated that in the last financial year, £74.6m was paid out and that the £682m figure is being made available “to cover the amount that may need to be paid out over many years”.
MPs have hit back by pointing out that a far better way to address risks involved in healthcare is to improve cleaning and training, rather than provisioning money for anticipated failure.
Angela Burns, the Conservative health spokeswoman described the amount set aside as “staggering”. Ms Burns said, “Risk is of course inherent in medical practice, but there are measures you can take to mitigate against aggravating that risk. This should include better cleaning practices to minimise surgical infections; improved workforce planning to ease individual pressures; and continued training opportunities.
“The Welsh Labour Government should instigate an urgent inquiry into its medical practices to ascertain why we’re seeing such a rise in claims against the health service, and put measures in place to prevent harm from arising in the first place.”
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government has responded by saying, “The actual figure paid out in the last financial year was £74.6m. £682m has been set aside to cover the amount that may need to be paid out over many years in the future as a result of past claims.
“We strongly reject the criticism that it is irresponsible of the NHS in Wales to do this. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people receive high-quality, safe care in Wales.
“With an increasingly complicated and modern healthcare system, problems can unfortunately happen, but it is important that both the NHS workforce and patients are encouraged to report all incidents so they can be investigated openly and lessons learned.”
The Tories, however, maintain that NHS workers are “under-resourced and understaffed”, and that such “enormous pay-outs” were a clear “reflection of the immense pressures of an overstretched workforce, who are under-resourced and understaffed”.
It remains to be seen whether any new measures will be brought in to help the NHS avoid clinical negligence claims, but the amount of money set aside in anticipation of such incidents would seem to indicate not.