The Woolf reforms were designed to speed up much of the judicial process, cutting down the amount of work for lawyers and the amount of time they would clock up on each case.
But no sooner does one lucrative source of business begin to dry up than the lawyers come up with another ruse to making money. The NHS, they say (first the Law Commission and now the Bar Council), should reclaim more of the costs of treating accident victims from the motor insurers. And what a ruse that is. Painted as good news for the beleaguered but popular NHS, the lawyers pretend to be the white knights fighting for honour and justice against the dark forces of the insurance industry.
But nothing could further from the truth. It is a ruthless job creation scheme for the legal profession.
And where will it stop? Insurers of companies where workers have accidents will have to pay for treatment. Insurers of public events where people get injured will be sued next. School insurers will pay for the nurses who deal with the thousands of scraped knees each year. Sports team insurers will have pay up for the broken limbs on Saturday afternoon. And perhaps even household insurers will face bills from hospitals after children have accidents in the home or garden.
If motor insurers have to pay, then surely the rail operators must pay for all those injured in rail crashes. And what about the travel insurers who fly home accident victims to benefit from the free NHS treatment? That so-called loophole will be closed too.
If insurers are going to have to pay for all this treatment they will, rightly, begin to insist on better control of the claims costs and that will mean more private hospitals under their direct control. The NHS will be left as the provider of last resort, caring for only those without insurance.
That was not Aneurin Bevan's vision. It was not appropriate in 1948, and it is not appropriate now.