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John de Bono QC published in The Times on Fixed Recoverable Costs

4th February 2016

The text of John’s recent letter to the editor of the Times reads as follows:

The collapse of the criminal case against an NHS trust and anaesthetist after the tragic death of Frances Cappuccini should prompt reflection as to whether a criminal prosecution is the best way to hold doctors and hospitals to account (News, Jan 29). In February 2015 Jeremy Hunt suggested there were about 1,000 “avoidable” deaths in the NHS each month. The General Medical Council rightly acknowledges that all doctors make mistakes. Where is the line to be drawn between gross negligence, which amounts to a criminal act, and mere negligence, which does not? Is it really in the public interest to have the entire medical profession living in fear of criminal prosecution?
The strong public interest in maintaining high standards of care and accountability is better achieved through professional regulation and the availability of damages in the civil courts. Further, the proper investigation of many civil claims arising out of the deaths in hospital of children, the disabled and the elderly will be prevented by the government’s plan to introduce a “fixed costs” regime for lower value clinical negligence cases from October 2016.

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