The Dentist Magazine.

Calling for legal reform

Published: 26/06/2017

Dental Protection has called on the government to implement a package of legal reforms to help tackle the rising cost of clinical negligence and the challenging claims environment for dentists.

Dental Protection said a dentist in the UK is nearly twice as likely to receive a claim for clinical negligence compared to just ten years ago, and a full-time dentist can now expect to receive two claims over a typical career.

In a survey of over 1,500 dentists, 94 per cent said they feel it has become easier to bring a claim for clinical negligence than ever before and 90 per cent said they are increasingly fearful of being sued. Eighty-seven percent said they support changes to the legal system to tackle the rising cost of clinical negligence. 

The legal reforms recommended by Dental Protection include*:

  • A fixed recoverable costs scheme for clinical negligence claims up to a value of £250,000 – to stop lawyers charging disproportionate legal fees.
  • An increase in the small claims track threshold for clinical negligence claims up to £5,000 – so more low level, straightforward claims are routinely managed within the small claims track and the cost of these claims are reduced.
  • A minimum threshold for cash compensation relating to claims for minor injuries – to reduce the cumulative cost of damage pay-outs where only very minor injuries are sustained.

 

Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection, said,“It is important that there is reasonable compensation for patients harmed following clinical negligence, but a balance must be struck. The rising cost of clinical negligence is impacting on dentists – when the cost of clinical negligence increases, the cost of professional protection must also increase to reflect this – and we recognise the pressure this places on our members.

“We know that working in an increasingly litigious environment day in and day out is also challenging, and is taking its toll on dentists when they are striving to provide the best possible service and care to their patients. Our data shows that a f-time dentist in the UK can now expect to receive two claims over a typical career.

“Dental Protection believes that a package of legal reforms to help tackle the rising cost of clinical negligence, and the challenging claims environment for dentists is long overdue. We are calling on the government to take urgent action.”