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'Fairness for patients, not fees for lawyers'

A new bill aims to make life fairer for patients who've been harmed by their healthcare.

Under the NHS Redress Bill, published last week, patients will no longer have to go to court to get compensation, care, apologies or investigations if something goes wrong with their hospital treatment.

It imposes a new duty on the providers and commissioners of hospital services to ensure patients get a faster and more consistent response to clinical negligence. A scheme will be established to cover low value monetary claims, with an expected upper limit of £20,000.

The government says it is designed to offer patients a real alternative to litigation, avoiding the long delays and legal costs of the current system.

Other key elements of the bill include provision for patients to receive redress in the form of care, and a requirement for scheme members to review adverse incidents and trigger the scheme themselves, where appropriate - removing the onus from the patient to initiate the claim.

Health minister Jane Kennedy said the bill 'means fairness for all patients, not fees for lawyers'.

It was important to recognise that mistakes do happen, she said. 'We want to... give patients what they tell us they want when something goes wrong with their care - an apology, an explanation of what's happened, and action to put things right.'

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