MEDICAL blunders have cost health trusts across Hampshire more than £110 million since 2012, new figures have revealed.
And according to the shock statistics, from the county’s hospital, ambulance and mental health services, the cost of legal claims against the NHS are on the rise.
University Hospital Southampton (UHS) alone spent £55 million in damages and legal costs between 2012 and 2017 – enough money to pay 2,200 nurses for one year.
Of that, £18 million was paid in 2016-17, more than double the amount spent by the trust three years earlier.
UHS’ five-year figure also represents half of all money paid out by the area’s health trusts.
These include Hampshire Hospitals (HHFT), South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), as well as Solent and Southern Health.
Critics have branded the figures as “disappointing”, while health chiefs say the number of negligent claims remains “very small”.
MP, Royston Smith said he was concerned that money was being drained from frontline services.
He said: “I’m disappointed that it’s anything at all.
“But I do understand that when hospitals have been negligent then there is a price to pay.
“In these cases it means compensating someone who may have suffered life changing conditions as a result.”
The figures come from the BBC’s new Data Hub, as part of an investigation into the cost of medical negligence on the health service.
It comes just days after the NHS “crisis”, which resulted in thousands of cancelled appointments as health staff battled to deal with an influx of winter patients.
A spokesman for UHS said: “The figure is high for the period (2012-17) due to a combination of a small number of large sums paid out for particularly long-running cases, as well as the size of the trust in comparison with smaller hospitals which see less patients and undertake less complex clinical work.”
Alongside UHS’ £55 million pay-out, the report also revealed Hampshire Hospitals to be one of the area’s top legal spenders.
The health authority, which runs hospitals in Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover, paid out £40 million in damages and legal costs between 2012 and 2017.
Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT, pictured right, said: “We are constantly working to improve patient care through incident reporting, training, audit and implementation of recognised best practices.
“By continually improving care we can reduce the very small number of patients who have cause to bring claims against our trust.”
Other services named in the report include ambulance service SCAS, which spent £6.2 million on legal claims between 2012 and 2017.
Southern Health, which covers mental health services across the area, spent £8.2 million over the same five year period, while smaller service, Solent NHS Trust, spent £500,000.
Although not included in the £110 million figure, Portsmouth was Hampshire’s highest ranked trust for litigation costs, with a total of £62 million.
According to the BBC’s report, the National Audit Office has warned that the bill for all types of medical negligence claims in England has risen four-fold in 10 years.
It now stands at £1.6 billion in 2016-17.
The report also revealed maternity-based claims to be the most damaging to the NHS.
Although maternity and neonatal care represented around 10 of all claims in England, it represented 50 per cent of their monetary value in 2016-17.
Dr Matthew Lee, professional services director at the MDU, which provides professional medical indemnity to doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals, has denied the increase in costs is due to a drop in clinical standards.
Instead, he says rises in pay-outs have been allowed to continue “unchecked” and has called on the government to implement radical reform.
He said: “As this report shows, for too long huge rises in the cost of NHS clinical negligence claims have been allowed to continue unchecked.
“This no reflection on clinical standards, which remain high.
“It is because of a legal system which has driven up the cost of paying compensation using NHS funds to unaffordable levels.
“Patients who are negligently damaged by the NHS must receive appropriate care and treatment, but the NHS cannot continue to pay such huge sums.
“The MDU has long argued that only radical legal reform will halt the rising costs of claims for the NHS. This must be a priority for the government.”
The report comes just months after the Echo reported that University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust was to pay-out £16 million to a boy, after midwifery staff at Southampton hospitals ‘failed to recognise and treat neonatal hypoglycaemia’, leaving the youngster with complex brain damages.
The child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was born in a good condition in 2005 at Southampton’s Princess Anne Hospital.
But he has been left with complex neurological injuries, including epilepsy, visual and mobility problems, as well as learning and behavioural issues, after UHS delayed providing treatment to monitor and manage his low blood sugar levels.
Source : DailyEcho