GPs paid £115 an hour just to go to talks on NHS reform on top of their six-figure salary
GPs are being paid up to £115 an hour on top of their six-figure average salaries to attend meetings on NHS reforms. They are receiving the generous allowances from cash-strapped health trusts to make up for the cost of their time and any travel expenses.
In some cases, the money is used to pay for locums – agency doctors – to cover their shifts at the surgery while they are at the meetings. But several primary care trusts pay GPs the money regardless of whether locums are employed or not.
While many PCTs give the allowances to practices – which may plough it back in to running costs and treatment – others give it directly to GPs.
Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham, who uncovered the figures, said it is ‘sheer madness’ that the NHS is handing out the allowances at a time of austerity. The average annual salary of a family doctor is just over £105,000.
As part of controversial health reforms, GPs are in the process of forming small organisations called clinical commissioning groups. These will decide what treatment and medical services are provided for patients in their area and will control local budgets.
They will replace primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, which are due to be abolished by 2013. GPs, who will run the commissioning groups along with nurses and managers, are attending regular meetings to sort out their formation and how they will run.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says the smaller organisations run by GPs will cut down on the needless bureaucracy and levels of management in the NHS.
But Labour says that in some cases NHS trusts will shell out tens of thousands per GP in ‘reform’ allowances on top of the £3.45billion the shake-up is already predicted to cost.
Figures uncovered by the party from 54 PCTs in England reveal that GPs in Hertfordshire are being paid £115 an hour – the highest in England. They get the money regardless of whether they pay for a locum. Those in Great Yarmouth and Waveney are given an £85-an-hour ‘meeting attendance rate’, while those in East Riding in Yorkshire are given £80 an hour. This is regardless of whether locums are used.
NHS Croydon pays the GP who will be in charge of the commissioning group’s board £30,000 a year on top of their salary – the trust says this will also cover locum costs.
Mr Burnham said some PCTs would end up paying GPs twice – once to cover the cost of them attending the meetings and then a second allowance to pay for locums. ‘It makes no sense to take GPs away from patient care to become part-time accountants,’ he said. ‘What clearer illustration could there be of the sheer madness of Cameron’s plans than paying GPs twice while 48,000 nursing posts are being axed.
‘These figures show the full hidden costs of the Government’s plans, asking the NHS to pay for GPs who choose to attend meetings of the new commissioning boards and again for a second doctor to cover their surgery appointments.’
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs committee, said: ‘If a GP is helping to manage the NHS, their “pay” will include the cost of getting a locum in to cover for the GP, as well as the pay for the job itself.’
Health Minister Paul Burstow said: ‘Our plans aren’t about paying GPs twice. They are about asking GPs to take on a new role working to plan the health services for their area. ‘By harnessing the expertise of GPs in this way we can make £4.5billion of savings on management costs. Every penny we save will be reinvested in frontline NHS care for the benefit of patients. If Labour had their way they would leave billions of pounds tied up in NHS bureaucracy and red tape.’
Temporary doctors get £215 an hour
Hospitals are spending millions of pounds of Health Service cash bringing in agency doctors and paying them up to £215 an hour. This is more than three times the amount paid to the average NHS-employed consultant – and equates to a salary of more than £400,000.
Freedom of Information requests have revealed that medical agencies have been pocketing as much as £5,000 for a single NHS shift at the same time as hospital budgets have been coming under pressure.
Staff shortages mean that trusts have been forced to hire in the agency staff, who often find themselves working alongside NHS employees who earn a fraction of the payment their hospital is charged for the temporary worker.
Figures show that last year the NHS in England spent £1.3billion hiring agency staff for hospitals, GP surgeries and other health trusts. Much of the money goes to the agency rather than the doctors, and the shareholders and owners of agencies are enjoying bumper paydays.
A Freedom of Information survey of NHS hospital trusts in England found 23 that admitted they had paid more than £1,500 to hire a doctor for a single shift. Many others said that they had no easy way to calculate the figures.
Those 23 trusts admitted to almost 700 individual occasions when bringing in a doctor to cover gaps in their staffing cost more than £1,500. The highest hourly payment was at Taunton and Somerset trust, which paid £215 an hour for a consultant dermatologist doing an eight-hour shift. The trust spent £1.8million last year on agency doctors. On 88 occasions, the cost of an individual shift was more than £1,500.
Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital spent more than £3,000 on nine occasions to bring in a consultant for its geriatric department. The doctors usually worked for eight hours and were on call for the other 16 hours of a day-long shift.
At Sheffield Children’s Hospital, consultants were hired in at almost £5,000 per shift to cover in the paediatric intensive care unit. Typically the hospital paid £4,900 for 48 hours of cover or £2,400 for a day-long stint.
Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group, said: ‘The often outrageous fees for locums and temporary staff means taxpayers are not getting good value for money. ‘There will always be a need for some temps, but with money tight the NHS needs to cut back on using them where possible.’
Family nurse ‘dying’ gran back to life after doctors give up on her: Granddaughter sleeps on floor to give her 24-hour care
Old people have bottom priority in the NHS, even though they are often the ones most in need of care
When 89-year-old Margaret Park’s family were told she had only hours to live, they gathered by her hospital bed to say goodbye.
But baffled as to how a pensioner who had gone to hospital with a bad back could now be at death’s door, they decided to ignore the doctors’ grim prognosis and nurse her back to health themselves. For three weeks, her granddaughter Hazel Carter slept on the hospital floor and provided round-the-clock care with the help of her 20-year-old son John.
Mrs Carter, 41, is convinced her grandmother – whom she later discovered was suffering from pneumonia – would now be dead without her intervention.One of her first acts was to stop medics from giving Mrs Park morphine. She said: ‘The morphine meant my grandmother had no will to fight back, and she had always been a very strong person. When she stopped getting it, she was able to fight for her life.’
Also against doctors’ advice, she fed Mrs Park despite the ‘nil by mouth’ on her notes. ‘I gave her custard because it was easy to swallow,’ she said. ‘It’s obvious you’ll never get better unless you have food to give you strength.’
Mrs Park was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital in March, and doctors found she had pneumonia – inflammation of the lung tissue, which is normally treated with antibiotics and oxygen. She was put on a saline drip and given oxygen through a mask.
But Mrs Carter said she did not find out about the pneumonia at first and believed her grandmother was merely getting over treatment for a bad back and a chest infection. As a result, she says she found it impossible to accept that her grandmother was close to death.
She said: ‘It was a Sunday and I received a call and rushed to the hospital and by the time I got there, the whole family were around her bed. They were all saying their goodbyes to her, and I said mine too. ‘Then one by one, we all left, thinking we would never see her again. But I just couldn’t accept it, and I couldn’t understand why she was dying. So I went back to the hospital, and sat with her.
‘I began to realise there were things I could do. She kept knocking off her oxygen mask, so I put it back and held it in place.
‘Then she was trying to clear her chest, but the drugs were hampering her efforts. As the morphine wore off, she was getting better at it, so I asked the nurse to stop the morphine altogether and it helped. She had the strength to clear her chest.
‘I stayed the night on her floor, and the next day a consultant told us she had pneumonia and, as she was very old, it would be a miracle if she lived through it.
‘But as time went on, she did improve. I stayed every single day and night, with my son John helping out too.’
For the first ten days, Mrs Carter slept on the floor but then someone brought in a blow-up mattress for her. She believes that much of the care she was providing should have been given by nurses, but she found they were simply too busy.
Mrs Carter would turn her grandmother, clean her, feed her and ensure she was given the correct medication that she had been on before going into hospital.
‘I didn’t want to make a fuss or interfere, because I didn’t want the nurses to throw me out, but I just stayed there and kept her fed and watered, and massaged her limbs, and made sure she had everything she needed,’ she said.
‘The nurses on the ward work horrendous hours, and it wasn’t their fault, they were just so busy. And everyone was saying she was going to die anyway. ‘I can’t really knock anyone at the hospital. When they realised my grandmother was actually getting better, they dealt with it properly.’
The constant care meant that Mrs Park began to make a steady recovery, but still the family were told she would not walk again or be able to return to live with her 89-year-old husband Jack. Again, however, Mrs Carter refused to accept the negative outlook.
She helped her grandmother to walk again and, incredibly, three weeks after the family had said their goodbyes, she was returning to her bungalow home in the village of Hambleton, near Blackpool.
Her recovery seemed so remarkable that a hospital consultant even telephoned Mrs Carter in tears to congratulate her. She said: ‘There was one junior specialist who was genuinely overwhelmed by it, and he was crying. He telephoned me after we went home to say I was the best nurse he had ever met, though of course I’m not a nurse.’
But her experience has left Mrs Carter, who runs a building firm with her husband, with the fear that old people are too easily written off by hospitals. She said: ‘My grandmother has always been such an inspiration to me. She and my grandad were married after the war and were farmers, and worked so hard.
‘She had a farm shop, she did B&B, afternoon teas and even bred dogs. They are still an amazing couple. She could make something out of nothing. My grandad still drives and brings her to visit us. ‘I have managed to stop her from crying every time she sees me, but she still can’t stop thanking me and my son for what we did. But anyone would do the same.’
In September, Mr and Mrs Park celebrated their wedding anniversary with a family party. Mrs Park said: ‘What Hazel did is keep me alive. ‘Everybody seemed so busy in the hospital. I didn’t feel I was getting a lot of attention. ‘She was a right little gem. I think they would have let me fade away if Hazel hadn’t been there.’
The hospital declined to comment.
£42million bill to remove failed asylum seekers: How British taxpayer funding for secretive flights has QUADRUPLED in past seven years
The Government has spent £42million on secretive flights to send failed asylum seekers back home, it was revealed today. British taxpayers are forking out a staggering £500,000 each month to fund expensive air travel arrangements for foreign nationals who have lost bids to stay in the country.
Entire aircraft are rented by UK Borders Agency staff to send up to 100 immigrants back home at a time to prevent passengers on scheduled services witnessing ‘distressing’ removals. The average cost of enforcing the removal of a failed asylum seeker was £11,000 in 2005, but this figure had risen to up to £17,000 by 2009. Including accommodation and support costs, some cases that year cost as much as £25,600.
Figures obtained under Freedom Of Information laws show the shadowy flights – which do not show on airport departure screens – have quadrupled in the last seven years.
In 2004, the data shows £1.73million was spent on sending back those who had failed in bids to stay in the UK. That soared to £10.4million in 2009/10 and £8.5million in the past year. Over the seven year period the total is estimated to be £42million.
Figures show a record number of foreign nationals, 42,552, were either forcibly removed or went home voluntarily last year. Those journeys were undertaken on either charter or scheduled flights, mostly from UK airports.
A total of 306,535 had been repatriated in the seven years up to September, the data shows.
According to government data the charter flight programme ‘initially’ operated to Kosovo and Albania only. Now the scheme focuses ‘almost exclusively’ on long-haul destinations and regular flights are carried out to Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Jamaica.
But foreign governments have turned back some flights because of ‘paperwork’ problems. In one case an entire plane-load of Iraqis were refused re-entry to capital Baghdad because they no longer had documents to prove their nationality.
Planes are provided by commercial airlines for removals to countries including war-torn Congo and Afghanistan as well as Nigeria and Sri Lanka. It is thought a number of individuals were removed to Sri Lanka just two weeks ago by a European holiday airline. A full list of airlines involved in the scheme is not publicly available.
However, a series of ‘regular flights’ take off from major airports including Heathrow and Gatwick and are jointly co-ordinated by EU border agency Frontex.
Home Office officials have insisted the increase in expenditure is due to the expansion of the original scheme’s destination list.
The National Coalition Of Anti-Deportation campaigns today accused the government of ‘hiding’ the flights from the public. Spokesperson Lisa Matthews said: ‘We are extremely concerned about the increase in the use of charter flights to remove individuals from the UK.
‘Charter flights are shrouded in secrecy, and if the UKBA believes it operates a robust asylum system that is fit-for-purpose, there is no need to operate in this deceptive way.’
Ms Matthews also expressed concern that private hire security firms are using ‘dangerous force’ to restrain foreign nationals after Angolan refugee Jimmy Mubenga died on a flight before it took off from Heathrow Airport last year. She added: ‘There is clear evidence of dangerous use of force being employed by the escort companies enforcing removals, leading to speculation that charter flights are being used to hide these activities from the public, particularly following the widespread outcry at the killing of Jimmy Mubenga.’
And she criticised the government after 713 ‘disruptive removals’ led to aborted attempts to send foreign nationals home from January to August this year. Ms Matthews added: ‘These removals are disruptive because UKBA are trying to send back so many individuals to persecution, mistreatment and torture in their home countries and the individuals are therefore extremely distressed and fearing for their lives.
‘Without access to justice, and without an asylum system that gets decisions right first time, the UK will continue to waste huge sums of money, huge sums it simply cannot afford.’
The UK Border Agency defended the removals insisting it was appropriate that those with no right to be in the country should be sent home. An agency spokesperson said: ‘It is right that those with no right to be here should go home and flights of this type still represents the most cost effective way of removing people.
‘The increased expenditure on charter flights from the UK reflects the general rise in the cost of air travel since 2004 and a greater number of flights to countries outside Europe.’
UK Immigration and Ireland sign agreement for enhanced border controls
The UK and Irish governments have now signed an agreement to continue with the Common Travel Area, a passport-free zone that comprises Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. According to UK immigration authorities, the agreement will help reduce illegal immigration. Although the stricter controls may make it more difficult to gain entry into the area, once you are in you can travel freely between the participating countries.
The agreement updates border controls for initial entry to the Common Travel Area which has existed between the countries since Ireland left the UK. The new agreement will feature enhanced electronic border control systems, which are aimed at identifying incoming passengers who do not already have the right to enter the Common Travel Area before they arrive at an international border.
People travelling within the Common Travel Area do not generally need to carry a passport or national identity document for immigration purposes.
The agreement also stated both countries immigration departments commit to sharing important immigration related information, such as fingerprint biometrics, particularly from ‘high risk’ individuals, as part of the visa issuing process and to help crack down on illegal immigration.
“This agreement will help us quickly refuse those with poor immigration records, identify asylum shoppers and speed up the removal process in those cases where people have entered the Common Travel Area,” said Immigration minister Damian Green.
“The benefits the Common Travel Area brings to travellers and the economies of our countries are well-established but it should not be exploited by those with no right to be here,” he added.
And The Guardian says this like it’s a bad thing
What worries me is that The Guardian seems to think this is a bad thing:
Britain’s “benign, tax efficient” property laws have encouraged super-rich foreigners to buy up more than £4bn of luxury property in London this year. A string of property experts said the world’s super-wealthy were flooding to London to buy £40m homes “without giving it a second thought”. In total foreign buyers bought up £4.3bn of prime central London property this year, compared with £2.1bn in 2010, according to research by Savills, the estate agent.
You can tell it’s a bad thing by the scare quotes around benign, tax efficient. It gets worse too:
London property was also viewed as a “safe haven” in times of strife in the Middle East and former Soviet Union countries, according to Barnes.
Buyers also favour London because of the excessive paperwork and legal technicalities of buying expensive properties in New York and much of Europe.
Just such horrors, eh? We’ve managed to create a system whereby those who have the wealth to go absolutely anywhere at all voluntarily decide to come to us? In fact, they decide to purchase, for very large sums of money, our exports?
For that’s what such purchases are, exports. They are goods that are no longer going to be enjoyed, consumed, by native Brits and in return native Brits have been given piles of money with which they can buy whatever of the world’s joys and riches they care to consume. In this respect flogging Johnny Foreigner a flat in London is no different from shipping him a car from Birmingham, a pork pie from Melton Mowbray or a loan syndication from Shoreditch. It’s an export and isn’t The Guardian the paper that continually bemoans our failures at exporting?
And the last line of the quote does amuse greatly. The po-faced disdain at the idea that deregulation, not having reams of paperwork, might be a good idea and encourage people to do things.
Convicts in Britain who are spared jail go on to attack 50 people every day
Thousands serving community sentences commit violent and sexual crimes
Fifty people a day suffer a violent or sexual attack by a convict spared jail in the ‘soft’ justice system. Victims include young children assaulted by paedophiles, figures released by the Government show.
They reveal that every year more than 18,000 convicts given a community punishment commit a sexual or violent crime within 12 months of being sentenced. Had they been sent to jail, the offences – which could range from rape to common assault – need never have taken place.
The revelation, in response to a Parliamentary question by Tory MP Priti Patel, will cast further doubt on the effectiveness of community sentences, which Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants the courts to use more. It came as separate figures showed that more than 43,000 criminals given community sentences broke them in the year to July 2011. A total of 43,521 had to be tracked down and sentenced again.
Miss Patel said: ‘This will do nothing to reassure the public, and in particular the victims of criminals who have been spared jail. The Government can’t stand by and watch.’
A scathing report by the Policy Exchange think-tank found that instead of being supervised while they do hard work on their community sentences, burglars and robbers were working in charity shops or making costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival. Some convicts were working with animals on farms or serving lunch at old people’s clubs. Others were found filling envelopes or sorting jewellery.
Within a year of completing such schemes, criminals had committed a further 250,000 offences in total.
Mr Clarke, who needs to reduce the record prison population, wants the courts to use community sentences in greater numbers. To persuade magistrates to opt for the punishment rather than jail, he is promising that convicts given a community sentence will be made to work for a minimum 28 hours, including ‘hard manual labour’.
The figures supplied to Miss Patel on sex attacks and violence show that in 2009, the latest period for which statistics are available, there were 18,133 attacks, including 172 sex attacks on children, by convicts who had been given community sentences in the previous 12 months.
They are the latest evidence of ‘soft justice’ to emerge in recent weeks. Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that tens of thousands of habitual criminals escaped jail last year despite having more than 15 previous convictions. Overall, serial offenders accounted for more than a third of the 294,000 cases ending in convictions in the adult courts last year.
Yet barely a third of those with more than 15 previous convictions were jailed. Of the 103,175 cases involving serial offenders, just over 36,000 resulted in immediate custody. In 4,579 cases, offenders were released with a police caution despite their lengthy records. Almost 11,000 cases that reached court ended in a conditional discharge, with another 16,000 offenders being let off with a fine. Just over 20,000 cases ended in community sentences, while another 8,000 resulted in suspended jail sentences.
The figures also reveal that the police issued more than 100,000 cautions to adult offenders last year, more than half of them to individuals who already had a police record.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Reoffending is falling and the overwhelming majority of people sentenced to community orders, or handed out-of-court disposals, do not commit further offences. If they do they face a potential prison sentence.
‘Despite this, we believe that levels of reoffending in this country are too high, which is why we’re determined to break the cycle and address the root causes of this behaviour.’
The SkillForce experience
By Lord Dannatt, Chief of the British General Staff, 2006-2008.
Over the past four or five years, we have become accustomed to seeing pictures on our television screens of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines doing difficult, dangerous and often heroic things on behalf of our nation, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We may not have always agreed with what they were being asked to do but since about autumn 2007 we, as a nation, have been both vocal and generous in our support for our servicemen and women, and their families – long may this continue.
However, Service people start off in life as citizens like the rest of us – they grow up in a community; they then choose to spend time in the uniformed military ranks; and ultimately they return to the civilian community whence they came. But on their return, they are not necessarily quite the same people. The training, the experiences and the lives that they have led have had a transforming effect – for some more than others.
It is this realisation that has made SkillForce, one of the Telegraph’s Christmas appeal charities this year, the dynamic organisation that it is today. SkillForce recognises that the shy or awkward, fit or gangly young recruit coming to the barrack gate has, in nine cases out of 10, been transformed into a confident, disciplined and well-motivated young person who is prepared to do their duty, especially so if well led and inspired. SkillForce has made its main focus the export of this positive attitude from the military into civilian life.
I first came across SkillForce in its early days nearly 10 years ago when I was asked to give away the prizes at a secondary school in a small town deep in rural England. I prepared myself for a fairly modest experience. But almost immediately on arrival, I was told in glowing terms by the head teacher of the tremendous impact on the school that the SkillForce volunteers had had.
Previously, classes had been held back by disruptive students, who either had no desire or no motivation to study, to the detriment of all. The SkillForce team of ex-Service people had taken out of class those who had no apparent interest in learning and given them completely different experiences. They had been offered the chance to learn practical skills, have fun and appreciate the value of being in a team.
When reintegrated into the school their attitude to learning, while not on a par with Einstein, was nevertheless sufficiently positive that they began to acquire a basic education. This had come about thanks not to highly trained educational psychologists but because a bunch of former Regular and Territorial Service people had cross-applied the skills that they had acquired in the Armed Forces. That experience, for me, defines what SkillForce has become.
In the aftermath of the costly campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a sizeable cohort of young people who might have thought that the best part of their working lives would be in the military, but the circumstances of the battlefield have dictated otherwise.
Whether injured by physical or psychiatric wounds, they want to continue to apply what they have gained from their military experience to everyday life around them. The nature of their injuries means that further service in the Armed Forces is not an option, but they still want to contribute what they have acquired. It is this spirit that is at the heart of SkillForce. It is often said that you can take someone out of the Army (or, equally, the Navy or the Air Force) but you cannot take the Army out of them. That spirit remains.
The Government has come to understand the unique spirit that inhabits those who are serving, or who have served, in the Armed Forces. It has written that spirit into law by including the Armed Forces Covenant in the new Armed Forces Act. This has placed a specified task on many government departments to look after our Service people, their families and veterans, possibly even promoting the meeting of their needs above those of their civilian counterparts on occasions.
However, I think the Covenant also implies an invitation to those who have served, and who will now be looked after very well, to continue to contribute what they have learnt in the ranks to those around them. SkillForce is a wonderful model and example of just how to do that. What SkillForce offers will not suit everyone, but it brings a resource and a need together in a most beneficial way.
Like everything today, a programme such as this costs money – more than the Government can afford, and less than SkillForce needs to meet its ambition – but the benefits are multi-faceted and hugely deserving of support. I salute the Telegraph titles for recognising the value of what SkillForce can contribute to our society, and I thank readers for their generosity in supporting this most worthwhile cause.
British education chiefs’ £500 payout to a teacher hurt restraining a pupil cost £60,000 in legal fees
Education bosses ordered to pay £500 to a teacher injured while restraining a pupil were landed with a legal bill of more than £60,000 for that single case.
This example is one of the most disturbing discovered as a Daily Mail investigation revealed a growing ‘compensation culture’ in the classroom.
Freedom of Information requests disclose that councils across England are being bombarded with claims from teachers, often for trivial injuries.
But, in many cases, the compensation payments are dwarfed by the legal fees run up by solicitors.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that teachers, often backed by their unions, are taking on no-win, no-fee lawyers to bring even the most speculative claims.
Last night ministers were urged to clamp down on the practice amid warnings it was having a ‘chilling effect’ on schools and other public services.
Our survey suggested that councils paid out an estimated £6.7million as a result of claims by teachers last year. But for every pound paid as compensation, another £1.25 went on lawyers and legal fees.
In one of the worst cases, North Lincolnshire Council paid £500 compensation to the teacher hurt restraining a pupil, but the authority also had to pay a bill for costs of £61,464.
A spokesman said fighting the claim in court had led to a big drop in the payout because of ‘contributory negligence’ but acknowledged it had resulted in much higher legal bills.
In another case, Wirral Council, Merseyside, paid £2,000 to a member of school staff who stubbed their toe on a box but then faced a bill for costs of £14,300.
Walsall Council in the West Midlands paid £1,500 to a teacher who suffered a strain falling over at school but had to pay £14,888 in costs linked to the claim.
In Southend-on-Sea, Essex, the council sanctioned a £13,500 payout to a teacher who was assaulted by a special needs pupil yet the bill for legal costs was £75,800.
In Dorset, a school employee was awarded £1,650 after slipping on posters left on the floor. Legal costs totalled £11,000.
In March, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke unveiled proposals to reform the no-win, no-fee system. But last night, Tory MP Philip Davies said ministers may have to go further. ‘This is becoming a massive problem,’ said Mr Davies. ‘Taxpayers’ money we can ill afford is being diverted from frontline services to fund a growing army of lawyers.
‘The Government has to find a way of scaling back this compensation culture. That will require clamping down on the activities of no-win, no-fee lawyers. ‘It is quite wrong that people are able to pursue claims – some dubious at best – without any risk to themselves. ‘This problem is not limited to the education sector. It is having a chilling effect right across our public services.’
John O’Connell, research director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s particularly frustrating that lawyers are ramping up charges way above the pay-out itself.
‘Sadly there is a growing compensation culture. It’s disappointing that big payments are often made for seemingly little more than everyday accidents, wasting taxpayers’ cash and making staff paranoid about carrying out their jobs.’
In total, 130 of the 152 education authorities in England responded to a survey about cases in the last year. They revealed the total of compensation and costs was £5.8million. When estimates for the other 22 councils are factored in, the overall total of successful compensation claims and costs comes to £6.7million. There were just over 400 successful claims for compensation, with the average cost to councils of £16,600 each.
Yet of that cash, the injured teacher collected £7,300 while legal fees amounted to £9,300.
David Bott, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, accused councils of pushing up fees by refusing to settle claims earlier. ‘The remedy is for defendants to put their own house in order. They need to stop dragging their heels admitting liability and agreeing settlements,’ he said.
But Government sources said councils were right to fight unjustified or excessive claims.