Compensation claims draining the NHS of £1.6bn a year: Number of payouts for treatment blunders has doubled over the past decade

The cost of clinical negligence claims against the NHS has soared due to ambulance-chasing lawyers, the official spending watchdog has found.

Over the past decade the cost of damages plus legal bills has quadrupled to £1.6billion – and is set to double again to £3.2billion within four years.

The National Audit Office (NAO) warned the bill for NHS blunders could get even worse as waiting lists get longer, increasing the risk that diseases are missed.

It confirmed that another factor behind the rise is an increase in the number of cases related to mistakes on maternity wards.

In a highly-critical report, the NAO pinned much of the blame for the huge increase on no-win no-fee lawyers who encourage patients to take out claims and then charge exorbitant fees if they win.

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