Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

PS78m Compensation Paid by Health Trusts over Just Two Years

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

PS78m Compensation Paid by Health Trusts over Just Two Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Health Reporter

HOSPITAL errors across the North East have seen the NHS payout more than PS78m in compensation and legal bills during the past two years.

Families are taking action over clinical mistakes as payouts totalling PS41,428,742 were made in 2012-13, with a further PS37,312,799 made in 2013-14.

However, legal experts today warned that compensation payouts would fall in the coming years, "not because hospitals are getting safer", but because families "won't be able to afford" to take legal actions.

The highest payouts over the past two years in the region were made in regards to Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, with cash totalling PS14,998,852. This was closely followed by City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, with PS14,646,429.

The latest figures were obtained from the NHS Litigation Authority, the organisation which handles negligence claims on behalf of all the NHS bodies in the North East.

Angela Curran, a solicitor specialising in medical negligence at Gosforthbased solicitors Burnetts, has settled four multimillion-pound claims against North East hospital trusts relating to catastrophic birth injuries.

She said: "It can cost a family more than PS200,000 a year to look after a child who has suffered serious injuries at birth, and the lifetime cost of that 24-hour expert care can be many millions of pounds.

"The increase in compensation paid by the NHS Litigation Authority may equate to the settlement of no more than a handful of additional cases.

"I would expect the overall figures to fall over the next few years - not because our hospitals are getting safer, but because families can't afford to pay the costs involved in such complex and specialist litigation. Following restrictions introduced by the last government, legal aid is now limited to claims for brain injury at birth - a huge number of medical negligence claims will never be brought. …

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