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Letter: Fixing blame for medical mishaps

Sir: Since all of the professions are currently seeking ways to avoid the impact of mounting damages awards arising from professional negligence, it is hardly surprising that the accountants should be gaining support for their campaign to reform the law on joint and several liability ("We can't all be held to blame", 5 June).

However, such a reform of the law should be resisted until a formula can be found to ensure that the victims of professional negligence do not, as a result, suffer reduced levels of compensation. This means that other parties - including company directors and officials - considered partly responsible for such negligence, should also be required to have sufficient indemnity insurance to meet their fair share in any awards made against them.

Moreover, all of the professions should be required to take a number of steps to improve standards. In particular, self-regulation should be replaced with fully independent regulatory and disciplinary procedures, perhaps comparable to those adopted by the medical profession. Rather surprisingly, a number of professions still do not regard negligence by their members as a disciplinary matter.


London SW7