Revealed: The £35m cost of medical negligence to East Anglia’s NHS
- Credit: PA
Poor patient care and medical errors have cost East Anglia's NHS £35m, new figures have revealed.
A record number of complaints for clinical negligence were submitted to the region's NHS hospitals, ambulance, community and mental health services last year, resulting in many organisations paying millions of pounds in compensation to patients and their families.
The £35m figure, paid on behalf of the East Anglian NHS, is the second-highest in the last five years, according to the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA).
The body collects money from all NHS organisations and then deals with compensation claims on their behalf.
Paul Southey, whose mother-in-law Daphne Simpson died at the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, said it was important that patients and their families sought compensation when mistakes were made in a person's care.
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NHS leaders said all incidents where poor care had been highlighed were fully investigated to ensure lessons were learned and that the same mistakes did not occur again.
The majority of money paid to complainants by the NHSLA was the result of negligence at the region's hospitals.
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More than £9m was paid out on behalf of the Norfolk and Norwich, James Paget, and Queen Elizabeth NHS foundation trusts – although Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Addenbrooke's Hospital, saw payments total around £10.4m.
The amounts are smaller for our region's mental health and community trusts.
But the East of England Ambulance Service paid a record £2.1m last year, a huge rise during the nine years since it merged – as it paid £40,026 in 2006/07.
A spokesman for the ambulance trust said: 'There is not a prevalence of clinical negligence at EEAST.
'The figures reported here relate to 17 claims, which is similar in number to other ambulance service trusts, and this is across a year when we dealt with more than a million emergency 999 calls which demonstrates the outstanding levels of care that our staff provide to patients.'
Last year saw the record amount of complaints submitted in East Anglia (343), up from 295 in 2014/15.
Writing in the NHSLA's annual report, chief executive Helen Vernon said: 'The key to reducing the growing costs of claims is learning from what goes wrong and supporting those who deliver care to make the changes necessary to prevent harm in the first place.
'Our teams are value-driven and do their utmost to balance the interests of the patient and the taxpayer to ensure that compensation is delivered fairly and appropriately.'
The NHSLA paid out more than £1.4bn in medical negligence claims across England.
Mislaid dentures, unexpected falls, gaps in nursing records, and poor continuity of care – these were all errors made by staff at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston who looked after Daphne Simpson.
Ms Simpson, of Gorleston, died at the hospital in April 2012, after a catalogue of mistakes that were reported in the subsequent investigation into her death.
Despite this it took her family more than three years to settle their claim for negligence with the hospital trust, which
eventually apologised and around £20,000 compensation was paid to the family.
Clinical negligence claims can take several years to complete, which is why the amounts paid on behalf of NHS trusts does not necessarily translate to the level of care given to patients.
Ms Simpson's son-in-law, Paul Southey, of Browston, near Great Yarmouth, said his family repeatedly expressed concern at the way she was treated – and then had to fight tooth and nail for an apology after her death.
'It should not be made so difficult for patients and their families, who are often grieving, to get the NHS to admit to mistakes,' he said.
A spokesman for the hospital said it had a strong internal reporting culture for identifying when things did not go as expected, which prompted an investigation and lessons learned.
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