Claimant lawyers and the NHS Litigation Authority are working on a joint scheme for fast-tracking clinical negligence cases.
The two groups will meet next month to examine a pilot for dealing with cases valued up to £25,000.
The scheme will use a staged approach that involves the early exchange of medical details, and solicitors will be paid a fixed fee for their work.
The cases would mainly involve claims where the claimant’s injury can be easily proven and will not deteriorate over time, meaning the potential compensation award can be decided at an earlier stage.
The pilot could start as early as next April and would be similar to the existing claims portal in place for low-value road traffic accident claims.
Terry Donovan, a partner at City firm Kingsley Napley and coordinator of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers clinical negligence group, said the scheme could be beneficial to clients if certain issues can be ironed out.
‘We are cautiously optimistic, although the upper limit of £25,000 is higher than we would like,’ he said.
‘At the moment it is very difficult for people to take out these lower-value claims, so a mediation-type scheme that preserves the right to litigate would be welcome. We still need to define the terms of the scheme.’
One area of discord could be the way the scheme is governed, with claimant lawyers likely to be pushing for an independent board.
An NHSLA spokeswoman said it was working with the Ministry of Justice and others to devise the scheme, ‘which will include either the early exchange of medical reports or possibly the joint instruction of medical experts’.