Hospital payouts top £2.5million

HOSPITALS in north Essex paid out more than £2.5 million last year to settle damages claims from members of the public and their own staff, new figures reveal.

HOSPITALS in north Essex paid out more than £2.5 million last year to settle damages claims from members of the public and their own staff, new figures reveal.

The payouts were made by Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Colchester General and Essex County hospitals, and Mid Essex Hospitals NHS Trust, responsible for Broomfield and St John's hospitals in Chelmsford.

Earlier this year figures obtained by the EADT revealed alleged blunders had cost the same hospitals nearly £13 million between April 2001 and April 2004.

Both hospital trusts involved denied the settlements were a reflection of the standard of patient care, raising fears hospitals are falling victim to “compensation culture”.

The money from Essex Rivers, which had a turnover of nearly £140 million last year, included damages of £629,890 and costs to settle claims of £519,250.

Mid Essex paid a total of £1,668,744 including £1,055,663 damages and costs of £613,081.

Most Read

Those payouts included £135,190 to staff at Essex Rivers and £290,243 at the mid Essex hospitals - figures including both costs and damages.

The hospitals do not settle the individual cases brought against them but are responsible for contributing into an overall NHS pot, like paying an insurance premium, which is then used for the compensation.

The total amount contributed to the “fighting fund” depends on hospital size, number of patients cared for and whether it specialises in high-risk activities such as brain surgery.

The NHS Litigation Authority also carries out its own risk assessments, giving ratings between zero and three, with level three hospitals regarded as the safest, entitling them to a 30% discount on premiums.

Essex Rivers is currently rated level two for its acute services and level three for maternity while Mid Essex is at level one for all services.

Anyone who makes a claim has to do so within three years of their time in hospital, although a child who has allegedly been affected by a blunder can still sue when they turn 18.

The majority of cases are usually settled out of court although, about one in three cases are abandoned by claimants.

A spokesman for Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust said: “These figures may sound high but this is because some of these claims go back several years but were only settled in 2004/5.

“The trust pays the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) an insurance premium every year which is always covered in our budget and therefore this figure has not affected our patient care.

“The trust is one of the only ones in Essex to have a level-two CNST insurance premium which means we are identified as a low risk organisation with good systems and processes to ensure patient safety.”

And a spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The amount paid on behalf of the trust is in line with similar size trusts and does not reflect, in any way, the high standards of patient care provided at our hospitals.

“We recognise the importance of CNST and are currently working towards level-two rating which we are totally committed to.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter