This morning, I stumbled across a news story about how:
1) Last year, the top 10 NHS litigation claims are responsible for £68m of its budget.
2) all 10 of these claims were related to problems with complications in birth or pregnancy.
This bothers me on a whole series of levels. The average annual brutto salary in the UK is just over £20K. This means that the top litigants, who were on average granted £6.8m of compensation, were given 323 annual wages as a lump sum.
Now, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that civil litigation suits can be a way to keep businesses in check, but the NHS is a government organisation which currently is running at a £512m overspend. The past year, the NHS spent £593m on litigation cases. For a government agency run on taxpayer’s money, this is completely ridiculous. The UK only has about 60 million inhabitants, which means that each and every individual pays £10 every year, just to cover the litigation suits.
Apart from that I believe that the pay-outs are ridiculous (323 average annual wages? Preposterous and selfish, in my opinion), I also think that it is stupid that the top litigants were all in birth-related cases. Giving birth has for the bulk of history been the most dangerous thing a woman can do, and being born has historically been the most dangerous time for a child as well. There are just too many things that can go wrong. It seems as if the high pay-outs are connected with the strong feeling of entitlement to have kids, which I feel is just completely ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact that most children born these days are unplanned (not unwanted, which is an important distinction), I think that perhaps it is worth reflecting upon that when people have babies nowadays, there’s a damn good chance that both the mother and the baby emerges at the other end of the process alive and well. This is a relatively recent development, too.
C’mon, folks. Seriously. The NHS is people taking care of each other by paying taxes. Suing the hell out of the organisation is the quickest way to kill off one of the best ‘free’ health-care systems in the world.
Accountability and responsibility is a good thing. But high-payout litigation is not the way to go about it.