United Kingdom Covid Vaccine NFCS
The UK had an existing no-fault compensation scheme for vaccines created 22 March 1979, and which incorporated covid-19 vaccines from 31 December 2020.
This scheme was created under national legislation, the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 and the Vaccine Damage Payments (Specified Disease) Order 2020.
Since 1 November 2020 it has been administered by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), who are a public body. Prior to that it was administered by the Department for Work and Pensions, a Government Department.
The funding for the scheme comes from central Government.
This NFCS covers vaccines for specified diseases as listed in Section 1(2) of the Act or added by a Statutory Instrument which are administered in the UK.
It potentially includes vaccines approved for emergency use and standard approvals.
This NFCS only covers permanent injuries.
Under this NFCS any injury is potentially covered.
This NFCS will only recompense injuries which cause 60% or greater disablement.
Charges for making a claim
There is no charge for making a claim under this scheme.
Under this scheme the following categories of individuals are permitted to make a claim.
- Live vaccine recipient
- the representative of a vaccine recipient if they are a child or unable to manage their own affairs
- The estate of a deceased vaccine recipient
Under this scheme the claimant is allowed to nominate a legal representative to make their claim. Funding for legal representation is not provided by the scheme as is it not considered necessary, but legal aid is available for some appeals against the scheme decision.
This scheme payments are ex gratia and are not referred to as compensation. The scheme pays the following
|Live Vaccine Recipient||Dependants of Vaccine Recipient||Estate of Deceased Vaccine Recipient|
|Payments are for general categories and are not broken down into economic and non-economic losses.||No compensation is provided specifically for dependants||Payments are for general categories and are not broken down into economic and non-economic losses.|
Payments consist of a lump sum payment. Payment under this scheme is fixed at a value of £120,000. This is a tax-free sum, but it may impact on some other social security benefits.
Funeral expenses are not available under this NFCS.
Loss of earnings are not paid under this scheme.
Time limits for claims
The scheme does not set a time limit between vaccination and the adverse event occurring.
A claim under the scheme must be brought within 6 years of the vaccination or by the age of 21 if the vaccine recipient was a child.
Evaluating claims – standard of proof required
Applicants apply on a specified form which gives consent for NHSBSA to access the claimant’s medical records. If a claim is assessed as potentially eligible it is passed to a medical assessor who determines whether:-
- If the vaccination caused the disablement and
- If the disablement meets the 60% or greater threshold.
The standard of proof required by the scheme is that on the balance of probabilities the vaccination caused the adverse event.
Appeals and the right to litigate
This is an ex gratia scheme, the right to litigate is not affected by use of the scheme - A claimant has a free choice to use the scheme or to litigate.
There is both an internal appeals process where the NFCS itself reviews the decision and an external review process where another organisation reviews the decision. The internal review process involves claimants who are unhappy with the decision writing to NHSBSA asking for a ‘mandatory reversal’. Claimants should explain why they are dissatisfied and including any additional information they want considered. NHSBSA will then review their decision and either issue a new decision or a ‘Mandatory Decision Notice’ which explains the reasons behind their original decision. The Mandatory Decision Notice also contains information on the external appeal option, an appeal to the Social Security & Child Support Tribunal. There is no limit on the number of times a claimant can ask for a mandatory reversal.
Useful information and links
It is unclear whether the scheme will produces data on claims & financial performance (claim numbers, payments, claim processing timeframes, administrative costs, etc) as the latest NHSBSA Annual report is for the period 2020/2021, prior to them taking on the Vaccine Damage Payment Unit.