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Like drivers, employers, landlords, lawyers – well, just about anyone in a position where their actions could harm others – GPs have insurance to cover them for negligence. If they’re found to be negligent the insurance pays out, in the same way your insurance pays out if you cause a car accident.

Of course, the more car accidents you cause, the more your insurance will increase. This is of course fair; you pay for your mistakes, and on the other hand are rewarded for being a safe driver.

Similarly, the more negligent a GP is, the more their insurance will increase; GPs who do not commit negligence benefit from lower insurance premiums i.e. the system works.

Sounds fair? Of course: the principle the wrongdoer pays for their wrongs is a central principle of any insurance system, and, for that matter, any civilised society.

However, there is one group of people who don’t like this system… …GPs found guilty of medical negligence! Much like negligent motorists, for some their insurance premiums have been increasing. This is of course what should happen.

Unlike any other sector of society however, medical professionals have very powerful unions and, as evidenced by the recent walk-outs, which risked thousands of patients’ lives, over a pay dispute, they will not hesitate to strike and in the process cause significant media unrest for a government already on the ropes.

Refusing to follow the principles of insurance applicable to any other person, GP unions have come up with an alternative idea, and Jeremy Hunt, still scarred, is running scared and quick to agree.

Their idea is this: instead of negligent GPs picking up the cost of their negligence, their negligent acts towards the public should be paid for by… …wait for it… …the public! The idea is that taxes will be raised to pay for these increased premiums and, of course, lawyers will be made to be the scapegoat, rather than the negligent parties themselves.

The results of this perverse and, frankly, disgraceful proposal will clearly be:

1. Tax payers will have to pay for the negligence they themselves suffer. It is directly analogous to paying the increased premium for the driver who runs into you!

2. The current deterrent effect of committing negligence in suffering a higher premium, will disappear. Again, imagine if your car insurance never increased no matter what you did: motor accidents would be sure to increase, with consequential effects for the NHS and state generally.

The last 10 years or so have seen a deluge of perverse and illogical legal reforms that have crushed solicitors’ morale, drastically reduced legal rights for the public, weakened the economy and increased costs for the state.

By now most lawyers have become so desensitised there is little motivation to protest but this proposal is one that struck me as so appallingly unjust and, well, poorly judged, I had to say, or blog, something about it. Doubtless no amount of protest will make any difference but the old saying goes “bad things happen when good people do nothing” and, I would not have thought it could be doubted that passing the costs of negligent GPs onto the people who suffer that negligence, is a very bad thing indeed.

Despite the Government’s continued efforts to crush legal rights when it comes to medical negligence, Aston Knight Solicitors Bury continue to fight for justice for victims of medical negligence and offer no-win-no-fee agreements as long as we think there is a valid case to pursue.

If you would like to know more, or to perhaps let us have your thoughts, get in touch on 0161 399 1231 or info@astonknightsolicitors.co.uk – we’d love to hear from you!

By James Winterbottom, Solicitor

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