Medical defendants have warned that public finances will not be able to cope unless clinical negligence compensation is radically reformed.

The Medical Defence Union, which represents medical practitioners in claims against them, says compensation payments are rising by 10% every year.

Dr Christine Tomkins, chief executive, told the Gazette the system must be changed before claims inflation outstrips society’s ability to pay.

‘If it is sustained in the long term it stands to reason a point will be reached where society cannot afford it any longer,’ she said.

‘Unfortunately what happens is people wait until there’s a crisis – we should learn from other countries and try to provide a better system in an orderly way.’

Tomkins said the MDU has started lobbying MPs about potential changes to the system for compensating people injured during medical procedures.

This would include repeal of a section of the 1948 Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act which means compensation is calculated to pay for private care, rather than NHS care.

The MDU also wants caps on the level of damages awarded for future care, with an independent body created to set a level. Claimants’ damages would be limited to three times the national salary per year under the organisation’s proposals.

Tomkins added: ‘Some claims have millions of pounds put aside for future loss of earnings. Other jurisdictions have talked about what is fair and affordable and come up with multiples of the average salary.

‘Should society be saying: we will pay you for all your lost opportunities or think about what is fair, reasonable and affordable?’

The MDU pointed to the NHS Litigation Authority’s figures released earlier this year which estimated liabilities for known and future claims were £25.6bn – a cost of £1,030 per English taxpayer.