• Frank Furedi
  • Frank Furedi
  • Sociologist, commentator and author

Report slams compensation culture

According to the research, published today, the propensity for demanding damages for accidents is “bleeding health and education services dry”.

The report, by Kent University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, claims that litigation culture has entered the national psyche and that suing for damages has come to be seen as normal behaviour.

This culture has proved expensive for both the education and health sectors. “Today, head teachers are surprised when parents of children injured at school do not immediately begin down the route of litigation,” it said.

It added: “Suing is not seen as the selfish act of the ‘have a go’ parent, but a selfless, responsible act to stop other children from having similar accidents.”

A 2010 study was quoted in the report which said that as many as 10 children were being awarded compensation payouts a week for injuries sustained on school premises.

Schools are now also undertaking fewer school trips for fear of being hit by compensation claims, according to the study.

The study states that rather than improving safety and accountability, the compensation culture has to the contrary resulted in “significant costs to the quality of services, the experiences of those who use them and the role of professionals”.

Statistics are also given which suggest that compensation paid out by the NHS Litigation Authority has trebled in the last decade. The report claims that of the £911m awarded in 2010/11 £863m was the result of medical negligence claims.

It is also revealed that a large proportion of these negligence claims do not reach court, with as many as 45% settled privately and 38% abandoned by the claimant.

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