The NHS Litigation Authority has launched a mediation service following the success of a pilot scheme. The agency says the new service is designed to support injured claimants, their families and healthcare staff in working towards resolution without going to court.

Two-year contracts have been awarded to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, Trust Mediation and Costs Alternative Dispute Resolution. The NHSLA did not reveal the value of the contracts but said it had secured the ‘highest quality mediation services for the NHS at the lowest possible cost’.

Helen Vernon, chief executive of the NHSLA, said the plans have been well received by all those involved in the resolution process.

‘Mediation is an excellent forum for dispute resolution and provides injured patients and their families with an opportunity for face-to-face explanations and apologies when things go wrong and reduces the need for unnecessary litigation,’ said Vernon.

‘We will closely monitor the service to ensure we see the positive benefits we believe can result from greater uptake of this non-adversarial approach to dispute resolution.’

In July the NHSLA reported that the mediation pilot scheme had been well received by clinicians and patients alike.

The test scheme focused specifically on fatal and elderly care claims. In a sample of 47 cases where mediation was completed, 81% were settled without the need for going to court. Around 60% of claims had settlements achieved on the day of the mediation.

The NHSLA said its experience was that the cases mediated gave the injured person the '"opportunity" and the "voice" to articulate the basis of their case and other related concerns, which is not possible at a meeting with just lawyers’.