Healthcare Brief June 2017: market insights
A summary of key developments including an update on the discount rate review, the Department of Health’s rapid redress scheme and concerns raised at the NHS Confederation Conference; the next phase of the Care Quality Commission consultation, updated General Medical Council guidance on confidentiality, fixed recoverable costs and modernisation initiatives.
Discount rate review: government response awaited
The Ministry of Justice’s consultation on how the discount rate should be set in the future closed on 11 May 2017. In a speech to the Association of British Insurers on 27 June 2017, economic secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, confirmed the government was considering the responses to the consultation.
Contact: Mark Burton
Related item: Bringing the discount rate into the real world
Rapid redress scheme: consultation closes
The Department of Health’s consultation on a rapid resolution and redress scheme for severe avoidable birth injury closed on 26 May 2017. The proposal is for a voluntary administrative compensation scheme for families affected by severe avoidable birth injury. The main aims of the scheme are to reduce the number of severe avoidable birth injuries by encouraging a learning culture, improve the experience of families and clinicians when harm has occurred and make more effective use of NHS resources.
In Kennedys’ response, we largely agreed with the basis of the scheme and its overarching objectives - as did many other of the responses issued - although caution was offered in relation to making sure the scheme could adequately compensate families, transparency, independence and access to legal advice throughout the process. The government’s response (for which no timetable has been published) is awaited.
Contact: Ed Glasgow
Full article: Rapid resolution and redress scheme: Kennedys responds
The NHS Confederation Conference: pay and Brexit
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the NHS Confederation Conference on 14 June 2017 that he would be speaking with the Chancellor about the issue of pay rises within the NHS – particularly in relation to nurses. The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, welcomed this. Hunt accepted that legislative change with a ‘weakened government’ will be challenging, but the emphasis for change should be encouraged and maintained.
Hunt explained that in light of the UK’s current negotiations with the EU, a new alliance has been formed, bringing together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations in an attempt to safeguard the interests of patients and the healthcare and research upon which they rely. Promises that seeking certainty for EU nationals in the health and social care system were a top priority were welcomed.
Contact: Christopher Malla
Care Quality Commission (CQC): next phase of consultation launched
On 12 June 2017, the CQC published its report summarising the findings of the analysis of the responses submitted to the first phase consultation on its regulatory model. Having published a consultation on its five-year strategy in May 2016, the CQC consulted between December 2016 and February 2017. Recurring themes from the findings include the need for clarity, consistency and transparency in implementing the changes, flexibility of approach and close and collaborative working relationships with other organisations.
The second phase of consultation has been published, which includes proposals for the regulation of primary medical services and adult social care services, improvements to the registration structure and proposals to monitor, inspect and rate new models of care and large/complex providers. Consultation 2 closes on 8 August 2017 and, once analysed, phase three will be published (estimated for early 2018).
Contact: Amanda Mead
General Medical Council: updated guidance on confidentiality
From 25 April 2017, all doctors practising medicine in the UK will be expected to follow the GMC’s updated guidance on confidentiality. This guidance has revised, expanded and is more explicit than the 2009 guidelines. The aim is to help doctors better understand their responsibilities when handling patient information.
The guidelines now clarify when to make disclosures in the public interest, the importance of sharing information for direct care, the circumstances in which doctors can rely on implied consent to share patient information for direct care and the significant role that those close to a patient can play in providing support and care. Also included is supporting information dealing with specific situations involving patient confidentiality, such as reporting gunshot and knife wounds.
Contact: Janet Sayers
Fixed costs update: DoH consultation closes
The Department of Health’s review of fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in low value clinical negligence claims closed on 2 May 2017 - ahead of Lord Justice Jackson issuing his final report next month. Jackson LJ has previously proposed the capping of FRC for claims valued up to £250,000. However, speaking in May 2017, he acknowledged the ‘considerable difficulties’ in applying FRC to clinical negligence multi-track claims valued at more than £25,000.
In Kennedys’ response to the DoH, we confirmed our support for a mandatory FRC scheme up to £25,000 and urged some caution in setting the level of fees to ensure they are set at a realistic level. The Civil Justice Council in their consultation response echo this approach. In November 2016, the government announced that Jackson LJ had been commissioned to undertake a review of FRC.
Contact: Christopher Malla
Related item: Fixed recoverable costs: mixed news for defendants
CPRC snippets: modernisation initiatives
The approved minutes and papers from the May 2017 Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) meeting were made publically available on 21 June 2017. Modernisation initiatives – including those being trailed through pilot schemes – feature prominently, including with regard to the introduction of a new fixed recoverable costs pilot scheme, work to develop the online court and developments in relation to the new bill of costs.
Contact: David Froome
Related item: Costs budgets: Court of Appeal rules on the relationship between budgets and detailed assessment