§ Sir Michael McNair-Wilson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in introducing a health authority indemnity scheme for medical negligence.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
We announced on 25 July that, subject to a satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues, the Government intended to introduce arrangements with effect from 1 January 1990 whereby health authorities would take financial responsibility for the negligent acts of their medical and dental staff in the course of their National Health Service employment. I am pleased to say that those issues have now been resolved and that the new arrangements will apply to claims for damages (in respect of negligent acts) which were initiated in earlier years as well as to new claims arising from 1 January 1990. This agreement is subject to the satisfactory conclusion of detailed discussions about the allocation of existing assets of the medical defence organisations to meeting liabilities which will be taken over by health authorities. The arrangements will apply to the hospital and community health services only. Detailed guidance on the operation of the new scheme, including the handling of both new and existing claims, will be issued to health authorities in due course.