While lockdowns and mass vaccinations may be a thing of the past, the consequences arising from the coronavirus pandemic can still be felt. Compensation claims for treatment delays, cancellations and doctor misdiagnosis are expected to continue for the foreseeable future due to NHS operations being adversely impacted in the last two years. Notably, the number of excess deaths unrelated to Covid have risen sharply which is pushing the Government to push hundreds of millions into its compensation scheme.
A recent report from NHS Resolution determined that health services have to pay more than £1billion this financial year as it settles claims.
This amount of money is more than double the cash set aside for the compensation scheme last year, according to NHS Resolution.
The body, which deals with patient disputes, said in its report that the primary cause of this increase was “the indirect impacts of COVID-19 of delays, cancellations and misdiagnosis reflecting longer waiting lists”.
Over 28,000 excess deaths not related to Covid have been reported in England and Wales since April 2022.
Deaths related to diabetes, cancer and heat problems are among the conditions which have increased dramatically.
Analysts believe many of these deaths would have been avoided if patients were offered a functioning health service during the pandemic.
Many Britons were not diagnosed or treated immediately due to many NHS services being shut down or working at a reduced service level.
As a result, the Government will funnel an extra £1.3billion in funding into the compensation service.
Earlier this week, the Government’s Health Secretary Steve Barclay addressed the issue and why it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Speaking at the Spectator Health Summit, Mr Barclay said: “We must also be transparent, coming out of Covid, around excess deaths.
“We know from the data that there are more 50 to 64-year-olds with cardiovascular issues. It’s the result of delays in that age group seeing the GP because of the pandemic, and in some cases not getting statins for hypertensives in time.
“When coupled with delays to ambulance times we see this reflected in the excess death numbers.”
Any financial compensation awarded to patients for general damages factors in the “nature and extent” of the injury and the “likely prognosis” for remedying the condition, according to the NHS Resolution website.
On top of this, compassion will also be based on guidelines provided by the Judicial Studies Board guidelines and previous awards by the courts in similar cases.
In order to assess how much someone will get, the NHS usually carries out an examination of the patient by an appropriate expert.
This expert will either be instructed by the patient on your behalf or by the defendant NHS trust, who will then produce a condition and prognosis report.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Professor Gordon Wishart, the chief medical officer at Check4Cancer and Visiting Professor of Cancer Surgery at Anglia Ruskin University, outlined his concern over the £1.3billion is “enough” to compensate for all excess deaths.
Professor Wishart explained: “The negative impact of Covid restrictions on other time-critical conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease has been predicted since April 2020, with significant harm expected in many patients from delays to diagnosis and treatment.
“The fact that NHR Resolution has set aside £1.3billion for future clinical negligence claims is an acknowledgement that the unintended consequences of Covid restrictions will continue for some time, and that these claims are likely to succeed.
“Given the current scale of excess deaths from many conditions including cancer and cardiovascular disease, £1.3billion may not be enough.”