Monday 8 May 2017

Funding our NHS

I went back to the doctor today, for a follow-up visit on my Dreaded Lurgi. I'm feeling a lot better now, but I'm still coughing. She did a lung function test (I blew into a tube) which came out as 400, which is well below par (I'm usually well above par). So I'm still fighting off the bronchitis. She gave me more pills - steroids, which will help clear things up. She laughed when I said "What about Vick" and told me to carry on with my prescribed inhaler. I also showed her my toenails - the fungus is retreating.

Cost to me - zero, of course.

But what about the NHS crisis that I keep hearing about? Well, I think I've tracked it down, and the answer will really shock you (as the clickbait goes).

The NHS budget is currently £118 billion. £56 billion is what the NHS is expecting to pay out on claims for compensation and lawyers fees.

So half of the money we were hoping to spend on health, isn't going on health. And maybe that's a problem.

Yes, I can see that suing for negligence has to be a possibility (although how many people have sued HMRC for negligence?). But it seems to me to be completely disproportionate that half the money that should be spent on health, is going somewhere else.

How to fix this? I don't know, but the first step has to be to realise that this is happening, and I, for one, did not.


  1. It's not like you to be flippant with figures, DrS:
    "The NHS spent £1.5billion last year settling clinical negligence claims with projections that lawsuits worth another £56billion are already in the pipeline. "
    That's 1.5billion a yr out of an annual budget of 118billion, which while still scary (although less than 1.5% of the budget), isn't as scary as suggesting that 1/2 the annual budget is going to be spent on litigation.

  2. Doc Solly didn't get rich by understating risks and dangers! :p

  3. Well, maybe the Express isn't covering the whole story. So I did a bit more googling.

    In the year to March 2016, £2.5 billion was spent in settling claims.

    Then I found this:

    THat's the NHS litigation authoriy annual report and accounts, 2015/16. The made a provision of 56.4 billion for claims (see page 14 of 154).

    This just seems to me to be the NHS expecting to pay half it's annual budget on compensaton claims.

    1. The devil is always in the detail:
      " the resulting provision of
      £56.4 billion reflects the true cost to the NHS
      in today’s prices of the long term damages
      payments that we agree to pay, stretching out
      decades into the future (over three-quarters of
      our liabilities will be paid in 2021 and beyond)
      in today’s world of low interest rates."
      Chair's Welcome, page 5, in the PDF you linked to.
      "The main feature of NHS LA’s accounts is the
      provision arising from the indemnity schemes
      that we operate on behalf of the NHS and DH.
      The provision has increased significantly from
      £28.6 billion to £56.4 billion over this financial
      year. By far the most significant factor has been
      the change in the long term discount rate set
      by HM Treasury from +2.2% to minus 0.8%.
      This change accounts for £25.5 billion of the
      total increase in the provision alone."
      Page 22, Key Issues, from the same document.

      It seems to me that doubling this (future) liability is an actuarial exercise. Better to determine what has *actually* been paid out in litigation in previous years. The 56billion figure is (1) spread over decades, and (2) an accounting exercise probably designed to increase pressure on the government of the day to improve funding, rather than an accurate assessment of the future liabilities.

    2. Yes, I see what you mean.

      Let's see what the figure is next year.