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NHS Resolution plans to create Faculty of Learning as it looks to move away from litigation

Vernon: costs of claims last year would have been double without NHSLA

NHS Resolution, formerly the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), is planning to set up a Faculty of Learning to bring all its internal and external training schemes together, it has emerged.

The organisation is also considering how to extend its new early notification process for high-cost maternity claims to cover other high-cost claims, according to its business plan for 2017-18.

Meanwhile, it intends to continue providing “expert input” to the Department of Health (DoH) plans to introduce fixed costs for clinical negligence claims worth up to £25,000. It emerged in February this year that the NHSLA was pushing for an upper limit of £100,000 [1].

NHS Resolution intends to provide further “expert input” on the DoH consultation, launched last month, to introduce a rapid resolution and redress scheme for severe, avoidable birth injuries.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the House of Commons last month [2] that the former NHSLA would “radically change its focus” following the name change, helping the NHS become the “world’s largest learning organisation”.

According to the business plan [3], the Faculty of Learning would “bring together all of our internal and external training offerings into one accessible repository”.

NHS Resolution went on: “The faculty will be responsible for signposting and delivering an expanding suite of solutions, delivered directly or in partnership with key system partners.”

In its first year the faculty would focus on “effective local dispute resolution”, learning from inquests, “effective delivery of candour” and supporting trust boards with the “governance and management of performance concerns”.

NHS Resolution said training provided by the faculty would help reduce the number of “frustration claims” – claims only pursued because of a failure to address the matter appropriately at an earlier stage.

The business plan set targets for the new early notification process for high-value maternity claims.

Where liability is admitted, it said that from 2018 onwards liability costs should be cut by 20% and the time between the incident and admission of liability should be reduced by one year.

On mediation, NHS Resolution said it wanted to have successfully mediated at least 50 cases through its claims mediation service by April 2018. After that, a further target would be set on reducing “frustration claims”.

During this financial year, the organisation said it would be carrying out “deep dives” into the priority areas of learning from inquests, mental health, ambulance service claims and further analysis of maternity claims linked to the early notification scheme.

By the end of the year, NHS Resolution said it would “capture learning data” from 95% of maternity incidents, reported via the new notification procedure.

In their introduction to the business plan, Ian Dilks, chair of NHS Resolution, and chief executive Helen Vernon said: “Whilst court proceedings remain inevitable for intractable cases or those involving points of principle, we believe that resolution is possible in many cases without formal and costly litigation.

“The financial challenges currently facing the NHS mean that we must take every opportunity to save money and remove unnecessary expenditure.

“Without our interventions in 2016/17 to negotiate claims values, defend claims where there was no liability and challenge excessive legal costs, we estimate that the costs of claims to the NHS would have been at least double.

“Significant costs would have accrued to the service as a result of the suspension of practitioners due to performance concerns and millions of pounds of legal costs expended on protracted contractual disputes.”