Peterborough City Hospital's NHS trust pays out £30 million in negligence claims over five years

The trust which ran Peterborough City Hospital paid out more than £30 million in negligence claims over a five year period.

Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 3:32 pm
Peterborough City Hospital exteriors

The money was paid out by Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust between 2012 and 2017.

The total figure of £30.65 million includes £2.38 million for payments for historical medical mistakes made before April 1995.

The trust, which ran Peterborough City and Stamford hospitals, merged with the trust which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital last April to become the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.

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Chief executive Stephen Graves said: “Delivering good quality, safe care for our patients is our top priority and if, on rare occasions, something goes wrong we have systems in place to ensure we have open discussions with patients and relatives.

“These cases are fully investigated and any lessons learned are put into practice and monitored.”

The figures, released following a joint investigation by Johnston Press and the BBC, also reveal that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust - which runs mental health services in the county - paid out £1.95 million over the same period, while the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust paid out £7.19 million.

Top of the list is Barts Health NHS Trust which paid out £123 million, followed by the The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which paid out £110 million and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust which paid out just shy of £100 million.

Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is 92nd out of 258 trusts for the highest amount of payments.

The Department of Health said: “Our relentless drive to improve patient safety, including an ambition to halve the rates of neonatal deaths, stillbirths, maternal deaths and brain injuries caused during or shortly after labour by 2025, will help to reduce traumatic and costly safety failings in the NHS and ensure better protection for patients.

“We’re ensuring taxpayers’ money is spent effectively by taking action against law firms creaming off excessive legal costs that dwarf the damages recovered – but we’re also clear we want to ensure patients continue to access justice at a reasonable cost.”

Last October the Peterborough Telegraph reported that an 11-year-old girl, who suffered a severe brain injury at birth causing cerebral palsy following errors made by Peterborough District Hospital staff at the time of her birth in October 2006, had secured a £22.1 million settlement package.

Peterborough City Hospital is the successor to Peterborough District Hospital.

In the past five years, the Department of Health has paid out £152 million, including legal fees, to victims of mistakes made before April 1995 in England.

Hospital failings during childbirth account for more than two-thirds of this cost.

The bill for all types of medical negligence claims in England - including damages and legal fees - has risen four-fold in 10 years to £1.6 billion in 2016-17, the National Audit Office has said.

In England, the body NHS Resolution (formerly the NHS Litigation Authority) provides NHS trusts with medical negligence indemnity cover.

NHS Resolution said: “Incidents in maternity account for 10 per cent of the number of claims we receive each year but 50 per cent of the expected cost of the claims.

“This is because of the very high cost of cases which tragically involve brain damage at birth where provision must be made for life-long and complex care needs.”

It added: “In the past, it has taken a long time for these incidents to come to the attention of NHS Resolution as a claim for compensation. We are continuing to receive new claims under our historic scheme for incidents which occurred prior to April 1, 1995.

“Furthermore, the cost of these historic claims has risen due to factors such as increasing life expectancy and, more recently, a change to the court discount rate.

“From April 1 this year, this changed and NHS Resolution is now involved right from the start in order to improve the support for families and the healthcare staff involved in these rare but tragic incidents and to speed up resolution.”

The Department of Health has recently consulted on proposals for fixing the amount of costs legal firms can recover from clinical negligence cases up to £25,000. It will publish its response in due course.

In November the department announced that families who suffer the trauma of stillbirth or life-changing injuries to their babies will be offered an independent investigation to find out what went wrong and why.