Healthcare Brief March 2017: market insights

Date published




A summary of key developments including the discount rate reduction, review of fixed recoverable costs, rapid resolution and redress scheme for severe birth injury, raising the small claims limit, proposals for transforming the justice system, a UK Medical Licencing Assessment and updated guidance on patient information.

Discount rate reduction to minus 0.75%

Lord Chancellor Elizabeth Truss has reduced the personal injury discount rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%. In exercising her powers pursuant to Section 1 of the Damages Act 1996, Truss treated claimants as a risk averse investor and applied the three-year rate of return of Index Linked Gilts to reach minus 0.75%. She will announce a further discount rate consultation to consider options for reform to include whether an independent body should set the rate and whether the methodology of assuming claimants will only invest in Index Linked Gilts is appropriate. The change will become effective on 20 March 2017. Meanwhile, the Association of British Insurers has confirmed that the CEOs of fifteen of the UK’s biggest motor and commercial liability insurers will meet with Chancellor Phillip Hammond and call on him to intervene.

Contact: Christopher Malla

Extension of fixed recoverable costs

The Department of Health has published a consultation seeking views on the government’s proposal to introduce a mandatory system of fixed recoverable costs (FRC) for clinical negligence claims valued up to £25,000. The consultation will close on 1 May 2017. Meanwhile, Lord Justice Jackson is leading a wider review of FRC to help to inform the government-led consultation to extend FRC to further areas of civil litigation. The terms of reference include consideration of the value of claims to which such a regime should apply. The call for evidence closed on 30 January 2017. Jackson LJ is to submit his report by 31 July 2017. While Sir Rupert is sticking to his £250,000 upper limit, soundings (including from other members of the judiciary) suggest a more modest figure of around £100,000. Realistically, October 2018 seems a likely date for implementation.

Contact: Christopher Malla

Related item:  Fixed recoverable costs: mixed news for defendants

Rapid resolution and redress scheme for severe birth injury

The Department of Health has published an open consultation seeking the views on the proposed investigations into severe avoidable birth injury and the support and compensation scheme. The consultation outlines the government’s proposal to introduce a Rapid Resolution and Redress (RRR) scheme – as recommended by the 2016 National Maternity Review. The government also intends to use the consultation as a call for further data and evidence, including, in particular, from families affected by serious birth injury, clinicians, patient groups and those involved with the litigation process. The consultation closes on 26 May 2017.

Contact: Rob Tobin

Reforming the claims process: increase to small claims limit

Justice Secretary Liz Truss has unveiled the Prisons and Courts Bill, which aims to modernise the court system and further enhance the United Kingdom’s status as a world-leading centre for dispute resolution. Key measures within the legislation include a new fixed tariff to cap compensation payments for minor injuries arising from a road traffic accident (RTA). The small claims limit for RTA-related claims will rise to £5,000 and to £2,000 for other personal injury claims. The reforms are expected to be introduced as a package on 1 October 2018.

Contact: David Froome

Transforming the justice system

The Ministry of Justice has published “Transforming our Justice System”, a paper proposing approximately £1 billion of reforms to the justice system to meet the aim of automating and digitising the entire process of civil money claims in the civil courts by 2020. The proposals seek to speed up resolution by replacing paper and post with digital working and to look at options to extend fixed recoverable costs much more widely. The consultation closed on 27 October 2016. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald has promised a review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) by April 2018.

Contact: Ed Glasgow

General Medical Council launches consultation on UK Medical Licensing Assessment

On 30 January 2017, the GMC launched a public consultation seeking views on establishing a UK-wide Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA). The MLA would create a single, objective demonstration that those who obtain registration with a licence to practise medicine in the UK can meet a common threshold for safe practice. All UK students would need to pass the MLA to obtain a medical degree. The MLA would replace the current PLAB test for international students and, following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, it is envisaged that the assessment would apply to European Economic Area graduates. Comments are requested by 30 April 2017.

Contact: Avinder Sidhu

Confidentiality guidance: good practice in handling patient information

The General Medical Council has published revised guidance on disclosures to support patient care. The updated advice sets out the framework for disclosing personal information, as well as doctors’ responsibilities in relation to managing and protecting information – including with regard to sharing personal information with third parties. The updated guidance comes into effect on 25 April 2017.

Contact: Rob Tobin

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