Alarming new figures reveal that the Scotland’s NHS has shelled out a whopping £61,183,537 on legal costs since 2018, due to dissatisfied patients taking them to court.
Responses to Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Conservatives show that almost 2,500 legal claims have been made over the last five years – although the true number is likely to be even higher as one health board did not respond.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde dealt with almost 700 of these claims, while NHS Fife spent £180,000 on a single legal claim.
Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane has branded the figures “a damning indictment” of the SNP’s “dire workforce planning”, which has left dedicated NHS staff dangerously overstretched.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “My heart goes out to the patients and families who have suffered as a result of failings in Scotland’s NHS.
“But the buck for this stops with a succession of SNP health secretaries – including Humza Yousaf and discredited Michael Matheson. These figures are a damning indictment of their dire workforce planning, which has left our health service woefully under-resourced.
“Dedicated staff are dangerously overstretched and, tragically but inevitably, this is leading to more mistakes, a growing number of compensation claims and resulting legal costs.
“Although anyone who experiences sub-standard care is entitled to – and right to – seek redress, at a time when budgets are so tight, the NHS can ill-afford to be spending such vast sums on fighting legal battles instead of frontline patient care.
“Scotland’s NHS is lurching from crisis to crisis under SNP mismanagement – and Humza Yousaf’s flimsy recovery plan has failed to remobilise it.
“Ministers must match the Scottish Conservative plans for a modern, efficient and local health service.”
Between 2018-19 and 2023-24 (up to June), NHS health boards spent £61,183,537 on legal costs, after patients took the health board to court. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Highland spent the most, spending £17,509,446 and £13,542,725 respectively. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 4 October 2023, Available on Request).
Almost 2,500 legal claims have been made since 2018-19. There have been 2,475 claims against NHS health boards since 2018-19, with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde having the most with 698, accounting for 28% of all claims. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 4 October 2023, Available on Request).
NHS Fife spent £180,000 on a single legal claim. Whilst most health boards refused to hand over data on this question, NHS Fife revealed that in 2018, one legal case cost the health board £183,146. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 4 October 2023, Available on Request).
This data came from 13 out of 14 health boards. NHS Forth Valley was the only health board to not provide any data, although NHS Lanarkshire did not provide any data on legal costs. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 4 October 2023, Available on Request).