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Mason Institute Investigates Episode 4: Clinical Negligence Claims: Costs vs Learning

Welcome to the fourth episode of the Mason Institute Investigates podcast. This episode’s guest is Dr Sarah Devaney (Twitter: @sarah_devaney19), the Co-Director of the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, and Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Law and Regulation at the University of Manchester. Dr Devaney and Professor Anne-Maree Farrell (Twitter: @amfarrell101) draw on their backgrounds as previous lawyers with clinical negligence experience to discuss reforms targeting costs of clinical negligence claims and their implications for patient safety.

Dr Devaney and Professor Farrell explore the effects a costly adversarial clinical negligence claims system can have on patient safety, but also the organisation’s culture.

“…So, cultures are so important and there’s been a really important step in the implementation of the duty of candour, which places organisations and individual professionals under a duty to be open and honest with patients where something has gone wrong or could have gone wrong but could have caused them harm; it’s quite a low threshold. I think there needs, in order for that to really achieve its aims, there needs to be credible support in place for practitioners to enable them to feel that they can engage in being open and transparent without feeling that they’re then going to be hung out to dry from a professional regulation perspective, or during the course of the clinical negligence claim…”

Dr Sarah Devaney

Together, they argue that the impetus for reforms aimed at driving down clinical negligence claims should be motivated by a commitment to systems learning and patient safety, rather than to simply reduce costs.

“… Is the law fully capturing the dynamics of that patient-doctor relationship? Perhaps where problems do occur; where harm is caused and focusing on one aspect of that relationship where it’s broken down; focusing just on costs, is never going to fully address the complexities. It’s an easy political win, but it’s never going to focus on the complexities of empowering patients, respecting health care professionals, and ensuring that the health system delivers…”

Professor Anne-Maree Farrell

Listen to the podcast episode on Media Hopper.

View the accompanying episode transcript (PDF)

Check out the channel of Mason Institute Investigates for other episodes.

For more information, please see the below links to further resources. Happy listening!

Written by Leyla Noury (Twitter: @dheggacad)

Links and further resources:

Dr Sarah Devaney (Twitter: @sarah_devaney19) School of Law, University of Manchester

Centre for Social Ethics and Policy | University of Manchester

House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee. NHS Litigation Reform. April 2022

National Audit Office. Managing the costs of clinical negligence in trusts. September 2017

NHS Resolution. Advise, resolve and learn. May 2022

Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA)


‘Mason Institute Investigates’ is produced and edited by the Mason Institute and made with funding from the Edinburgh Law School.

The intro song is ‘Secret to Success’ by Scott Holmes Music

The outro song is ‘Inspirational Outlook’ by Scott Holmes Music

Both are available under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons Licence from Free Music Archive

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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