The British public’s relationship with ‘health and safety’ is complex. Health and safety ‘culture’ is blamed for stifling economic growth and preventing volunteers from engaging in beneficial civic and community activities. Yet when things go wrong, in care homes, hospitals, banks, or fun fairs, the cry goes up: where was the regulator?
The prime minister shares that doublethink, being one moment ‘absolutely appalled’ with the health regulator’s finding that one in five hospitals fails to meet basic standards of care for elderly patients, the next attacking our ‘albatross’ safety culture.
David Cameron’s most recent broadside, delivered to an audience of small business owners, was very short on detail, but the proposal to ‘cap’ lawyers’ fees in personal injury claims hints at the ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ extension of the RTA Portal process.
This would be a further piece of doublethink. The relative success of the portal process has been dependent on consensus between the claimant and defendant solicitors who hammered out its principles, rules and mechanics. It is an ‘industry-led’ solution. That consensus looks impossible to build around the cases vertical and horizontal extension would cover.
So a new ‘industry-led’ solution, delivering the protocols and processes that make a fee cap possible, would need to be imposed - the sort of public policy oxymoron that would fail to replicate the portal’s merits.