‘Litigious climate’ harming public services, says thinktank
The ‘destructive consequences’ of health and education-related litigation have been attacked by influential conservative thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies.
Co-authored by social commentator Frank Furedi, The Social Cost of Litigation aimed to ‘alert policy-makers and public to the non-quantifiable but nevertheless destructive consequences of litigation culture’.
The report’s authors believe ‘best practice’ in the NHS has become conflated with ‘litigation avoidance’. They also argue that the low number of clinical negligence damages ‘approved or set by the court’ (3.2%) is evidence that litigation benefits only ‘greedy lawyers’.
Evidence cited for the damaging effect of claims against schools for injury is more anecdotal. Information for claims in one year for injuries to children amount to £6.7m. Furedi is further critical of teacher unions’ support for injury claims where injury resulted from ‘normal’ activities.
In both health and education, he says that liabilities could affect the desired operation of outsourcing agreements with new publicly-funded providers.
Repeating points made in his previous paper Courting Mistrust, Furedi argues that compensation in the public sector should be separated from tort law. A scheme of no-fault liability would be central to such a change.
The Social Cost of Litigation concludes: ‘A litigious climate inexorably leads to the diminishing of the ethos of public service and a decline in the quality of care in health and in the education of our children.’