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Suffolk: Clinical compensation figures revealed for Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospitals

09:01 10 January 2014

Clinical compensation claims at Ipswich Hospital have cost more than £13million over the past three years, an investigation has revealed.

According to figures from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), claims made by patients or their families led to the payouts totalling £13.27m at Ipswich Hospital.

The hospital footed a compensation bill of £13.27m with £4.37m paid out in 2012/13 compared to £5.96m the previous year.

The payouts, which represent compensation costs and do not include legal fees, dwarf the £2.93m bill paid in 2010/11.

An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said: “We want to provide high quality, safe and compassionate care to all our patients.

“Very sadly in rare cases things do go wrong and the NHSLA support us and many other hospitals in making sure that the cases of medical negligence and clinical negligence are dealt with very swiftly.

“Many of the cases contained in these figures from 2010 up to now relate to clinical issues which happened some time ago while the figures vary each year due to the nature of the cases that are being heard.”

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds footed a compensation bill totalling £8.79m with £2.87m paid out in 2012/13 compared to £4.66m the previous financial year. A total of £1.25m was paid in 2010/11.

A West Suffolk Hospital spokeswoman said that the care and wellbeing of its patients is of “paramount importance” to the hospital and every effort is made to ensure safety at all times.

“As an organisation, we learn from any incidents which do occur, have extensive action plans in place to minimise risk and work hard to promote a culture which puts patient safety first among our staff,” she added.

“The national trend has seen the number of clinical negligence claims increase over recent years. However, as claims take some time to settle, the figures provided in the FOI date back several years and do not relate to the number of incidents taking place in the years in which the payments were made.

“It is important that we are able to compensate patients and their families should it become necessary. We are insured against claims for clinical negligence, and all settlements are paid by the NHS Litigation Authority.”

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter, who is MP for North Ipswich and Central Suffolk, said litigation bills at the region’s hospitals are relatively low compared to the rest of the country.

“No-one wants to see compensation paid out because that’s money we would all rather see spent on frontline patient care but sometimes bad things do happen,” he added.

“But I’m confident that we have some excellent, high quality staff who deliver safe and effective care.

“Litigation bills are often driven by one or two claims that are of a very high amount because occasionally things do go wrong in childbirth and you pay the lifetime cost of care for a disabled child which can mean up to £7m in damage awards.”

An NHSLA spokesman said the payments relate to claims received by a trust and the awards to those claimants.

“There is an average time of two-and-a-half years before a claim is made to the NHS Litigation Authority,” he added. “This means that claims do not necessarily relate to the year in which a payment has been made to a claimant.”

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