Letter: Medical negligence: to apologise, to explain, to litigate

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The Independent Online
From Mr Michael Napier

Sir: The tranquilliser claims Polly Toynbee refers to were against pharmaceutical companies for failing to warn doctors and patients about the risk of injury to health, caused by addiction and dependency on drugs, at vast expense to the NHS. Soon after the claims were made, a government warning led to a dramatic reduction in tranquilliser prescriptions at a huge saving to the NHS. And although the liability of the drug manufacturers was never tested at trial, the case was certainly not the no-hoper she suggests.

In her sweeping attack on the legal profession's motives when acting for accident victims, Polly Toynbee also overlooks the fact that nobody can sue for medical negligence (with or without legal aid) unless their claim is supported by the independent evidence of another doctor.

Medical negligence litigation is usually hard fought and not every case succeeds. But each year, numerous victims of medical accidents rightly recover compensation that in total far exceeds the annual amount paid out by legal aid on cases that fail.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Napier

President, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers