Staff shortages to blame for high medical negligence payouts

Medical negligence in the NHS cost £1.2 billion over the last two years, recently released research figures show. Nearly half of these personal injury compensation payments were for mistakes that occurred on under-staffed maternity units.

These revelations come after an investigation by Standard discovered that personal injury claims for obstetrics failings have increased by 25% in one year.

In the financial year 2010–11, NHS Trusts paid out £650 million in medical negligence compensation. In the previous year, the total was £564 million. In London alone, last year’s clinical negligence payouts amounted to £126 million.

Geoff Martin, campaign group Health Emergency’s chairman, said that these costs are likely to continue spiralling as the coalition’s reforms are pushed through. The health service is already suffering through a series of cutbacks and things will get worse under the new reforms.

Hospitals are already experiencing severe staff shortages and will to do so under the new proposals. Staff shortages lead to mistakes occurring. Every pound lost in litigation is a pound that we could have spent on better health care. It’s a vicious circle.

A senior spokesperson from NHS London pointed out that there are several reasons why the number of claims has risen. Some compensation awards are for cases that are a few years old; furthermore today’s payouts reflect the increased costs of treatment.

The NHS Trust that administers the Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals, topped the payout league at £11 million last year and is currently being investigated by the Care Quality Commission.

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