Monday 24 September 2012 by John Hyde
The government has abandoned a scheme to take up to 25% of damages awards from clinical negligence victims.
The Supplementary Legal Aid scheme was intended to fund cases that would still come under the scope of legal aid from next April. Campaigners argued it amounted to a 'raid' on funds earmarked for the care of victims of clinical negligence and launched a petition to have the policy reversed.
In a statement, the Ministry of Justice today announced it would no longer go ahead with the scheme.
A spokesman said: 'Having carefully considered the views expressed in a recent stakeholder engagement exercise, ministers have decided not to proceed with implementation of the proposed Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme in April 2013.'
Legal aid will continue to be available only to those who have been injured during pregnancy, labour or the first eight weeks of life. The reversal of the supplementary scheme will mean the MoJ has to find alternative means of funding those cases that have remained in scope.
Peter Walsh, chief executive of patients' charity Action against Medical Accidents, said: 'We are grateful to the new ministers at the MoJ for recognising the gross unfairness and irrationality of their predecessors' plans.
'We hope that this more enlightened approach will lead to further changes to protect access to justice for victims of clinical negligence. It beggars belief that their predecessors were prepared to raid the damages of children brain-damaged by clinical negligence to subsidise their department.'