The Department of Health has updated its review of fixed recoverable costs on claims against the NHS in England and Wales - to say there is still no decision.
A consultation on the introduction of the fees opened in January and closed on 2 May, with a response expected before last week’s summer parliamentary recess.
That date passed without any statement, and now the DoH has 'updated' the consultation page to say decisions on development of this policy 'have not yet been finalised' following the formation of a new government last month. The results of the consultation, adds the update, will be published 'in due course'.
The lack of action leaves lawyers involved in clinical negligence claims still unsure where they stand and what future plans they should make. Lawyers were asked for their thoughts in a pre-consultation as long ago as 2015, but progress has stalled since then.
The DoH says the scheme aims to provide quicker and more cost effective resolution for all parties, greater opportunities for earlier learning of lessons and access to justice by streamlining the system and incentivising earlier resolution of claims.
The department has stated the current system of claims is 'often lengthy, adversarial and the escalating the costs of litigation is not sustainable'.
Helen Vernon, NHS Resolution chief executive, said last month that claimant legal costs rising 19% from £418m to £498.5m illustrated the ongoing challenge of 'disproportionate' fees.
The issue could be complicated further next week when Lord Justice Jackson is due to publish his report on fixed recoverable costs for all civil justice claims. The Court of Appeal judge has gone on record with doubts about applying a fixed costs regime to multi-track clinical negligence claims valued more than £25,000.