The NHS Litigation Authority, which provides indemnity cover for legal action against the health service, has set aside £26.1bn this year to cover its existing and future liabilities. This is almost a quarter of the £113bn annual health budget.
Over £1.5bn was paid out to cover medical negligence claims last year.
On behalf of West Midlands Hospitals alone, last year, the NHS paid out in excess of £45 million on clinical negligence claims, with £31 million awarded to patients and £17 million on legal costs. This was more than any other group in England.
The Heart of England NHS Trust, which runs Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, had the largest bill for 2013 – 2014 of around £13.9 million. In addition, the Trust paid up to £1.5 million in legal fees. The figures published by the NHS Litigation authority show that the Heart of England NHS Trust had to spend £3.6 million paying claimants legal costs and a further £8.8 million paying damages in cases that they lost. However the sums paid out were less than previous years.
The Trust has explained that hundreds of pay outs were as a result of unlicensed and unnecessary operations being performed on women at Solihull Hospital by Surgeon Ian Paterson.
The Trust with the second highest payments was Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, which paid out £5.9 million to patients.
According to the litigation authority the highest value claims are those that involve childbirth. Suggested changes in policy will mean that Hospitals which are unable
to prove their openness about a mistake which leads to a clinical negligence claim may face heavy sanctions.
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