Hospital's £3million compensation bill

IPSWICH Hospital has been told to pay out nearly £3million in compensation claims during the last five financial years, it was revealed today.

IPSWICH Hospital has been told to pay out nearly £3million in compensation claims during the last five financial years, it was revealed today.

The cash-strapped NHS Trust was left with a bill for damages to patients and staff totalling £1,922,413, after nearly 100 successful legal claims were made against it.

The bill for the hospital's legal representation and the claimants' costs it agreed to pay came to £1,022,738 - around a third of the total compensation payout.

The figures emerged after a Freedom of Information request by The Evening Star.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, was keen to point out compensation payments are not paid directly by the hospital, but come from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), a fund used - and contributed to - by hospitals nationally.

Ms Rowsell said: “The money we get to provide services does not go in any way towards paying for settlement fees. This comes from an entirely different pot of money which is a national one. We contribute through a payment system, but the money we get to provide patient care is not used to fund it.

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“One person who feels uncomfortable, unhappy or that something untoward has happened in the care of the hospital is one too many, but we treat around 400,000 people a year and, as a percentage, the number of cases where people are unhappy amounts to a very small one.

“We want to provide the very best service. We can minimise the risk, but we can't take it away altogether.

“Our legal advisors do work hard to ensure all cases are looked into, actioned and reach court as soon as it is appropriate to do that.”

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DURING 2005/06 Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust's bill for compensation came to £924,263 including damages and legal fees.

Compensation for this year as part of the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) came to £255,714, but it was topped by legal costs from this fund of £363,202.

The Risk Pooling Scheme for Trusts (RPST), which covers non-clinical risks and claims from staff, paid out £252,050 in damages and £53,206 in solicitors and lawyers fees.

The year before the hospital paid out £572,650 from the same compensation sources.

Over the five-year financial period from 2001 to 2006, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust received 97 claims and 46 incidents, which are termed as potential claims.

Apart from the CNST and RPST pots for compensation, damages and legal fees were also paid out from a third fund - the Existing Liabilities Scheme (ELS), which covers claims relating to incidents prior to April 1, 1995.

The payouts from this came to £78,681.

The figures were revealed only a few days after it emerged that staff at Ipswich Hospital made nearly 200 patient care blunders in just one month.

A hospital watchdog blamed the spate of errors on the massive strain being placed on staff as swingeing cutbacks are forced through.

The disturbing insight into conditions at Ipswich Hospital was uncovered in the 2006 Healthcare Commission survey, completed by 495 members of staff.

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