Compensation payments for clinical negligence paid on behalf of a Lincolnshire hospital trust could fund more than 650 nurses or 450 junior doctors’ salaries, a medical indemnity body has revealed.
A total of £19.2 million was paid out on behalf of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust by the NHS Litigation Authority to compensate patients and pay legal fees in the year to March 2014. This puts the trust fifth highest in England for compensation paid out in clinical negligence claims.
The Medical Defence Union (MDU) revealed the figures as it called on politicians to take action to prevent spiralling increases in multi-million pound compensation awards affecting NHS hospitals.
Dr Michael Devlin of the MDU said: “It is important to make it clear that the size of payments is no reflection on patient safety or on clinical standards. Compensation awards are so high because they reflect the money the NHS has to pay to fund care for negligently damaged patients in the private sector.
“The staggering amounts paid out on behalf of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and other English hospitals means there is less money for care of other patients. In the year ending March 31, 2014, over £1bn was paid out in total on behalf of all English hospitals.
“We are facing a nationwide problem. Claims inflation has been rising at a constant ten per cent for the last few years and compensation awards are doubling in value every seven years. Patients who have been negligently harmed need to be properly compensated so they know their health and social care needs will be met, but the NHS cannot continue to pay claims at this rate. “
Compensation awards can run to many millions of pounds because defendant bodies like the NHS litigation authority and the MDU are prevented from compensating on the basis that care will be provided by the NHS and local authorities.
Dr Devlin continued:“We hope that MPs will engage with us on behalf of their constituents. We would like to see the problem of spiralling damages awards being taken seriously by parliament and for there to be informed debate about how this money can be retained in the NHS for the benefit of all patients.”