Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press notice No.22 of Session 2005-06
28 March 2006


The Constitutional Affairs Committee has today issued a report, highlighting potential difficulties with the Government's proposed NHS Redress Scheme. The NHS Redress Bill has completed its passage in the House of Lords and was presented in the House of Commons on 1 March.

Under the scheme, people who sustain injuries while undergoing NHS treatment could make claims for up to £25,000, with the Government picking up the bill for legal costs and medical reports. The scheme is designed to reduce legal costs by taking cases out of the court system.

The Department of Health (DoH) is, however, unable to quantify the number of potential new claimants under the scheme, although it has accepted that there could be as many as 19,500 additional claims every year. The DoH has also not been able to identify the independent practitioners who would administer the scheme, nor has it the stated the sort of rates which it would pay medical experts and lawyers.

In a previous report, Compensation Culture ( HC 754), the Committee expressed surprise that the Department of Health had produced an ambitious compensation scheme without setting out any of the detail of how it would be run.

Rt Hon Alan Beith MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

We are particularly concerned that the Department of Health is seeking to introduce this Redress scheme without any idea of the potential increase in the number of claimants. It is worrying that the Department has displayed a lack of focus in working out the detail of the proposals and that it does not appear to have given detailed consideration to the potential cost. As we indicated in our previous report Compensation Culture, we believe this scheme should be piloted, so that the cost implications can be properly judged. These weaknesses threaten the viability of the scheme, and we are alarmed that the NHS appears relaxed about these problems and about the potential costs.

1. The Report ( Compensation culture: NHS Redress Bill, Fifth Report of Session 2005-06, HC 1009) will be available on the Reports and Publications page of Committee's website:
2. The Committee's previous report ( Compensation culture, Third Report of Session 2005-06, HC 754-I and II) is also available on the Reports and Publications page of Committee's website:
3. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Alan Beith MP (Chairman), James Brokenshire MP, David Howarth MP, Barbara Keeley MP, Mr Piara S Khabra MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, Keith Vaz MP, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Jeremy Wright MP