KGH makes £7m payout to patients

Kettering General Hospital
Kettering General Hospital

A hospital had to make £7m of payouts to patients due to medical mistakes last year.

Latest figures revealed by the Telegraph show that Kettering General Hospital paid out the huge sum due to medical negligence in 2011-12.

This is more than the previous two years combined.

There were 28 claims made against the hospital trust last year, but the payouts could be related to incidents from any point since 1995, not just in the past financial year.

Hospital chief executive Lorene Read said: “The reason for the increase in payments over the past financial year is that cases settled may relate to claims made in previous years – some take longer to resolve.

“People should be reassured that when they come to KGH they are coming to a hospital that does everything it can to look after its patients well.”

The hospital paid out £5.7m in damages, £421,000 in defence costs and £1.3m in claimant costs.

KGH does not directly pay out to patients – the hospital’s insurance firm does so.

The hospital receives a discount when it pays into the national insurance scheme for clinical claims because it has proven it meets NHS standards.

Earlier this year, the hospital paid out £1.5m to a young man who was left blind after blunders were made during his premature birth.

That incident happened in the late 1980s but was only resolved in 2012.

In 2009-10, the hospital paid out £2.8m because of medical errors, while a year later it paid out £2.9m due to negligence.

Last year, Northampton General paid out £5.2m.

But bosses at KGH say the figures are not an indicator of overall safety for patients at the hospital, with the majority of negligence claims coming from single incidents.

Ms Read added: “KGH continues to take patient safety extremely seriously.

“We have a vast array of policies, procedures and protocols for our medical staff to follow to maximise safety while caring for patients.

“Whilst these initiatives are important there are also a very large range of safety and quality measures which we consider to be a matter of normal daily routine.

“Anyone who comes into hospital – particularly as an inpatient – will be aware of some of those measures.

“For example patients and visitors are asked to wash their hands regularly – our staff do it as a matter of routine - to reduce the risk of infections.

“We also carry out a number of other practices to reduce infections from regular cleaning, to special procedures, for example, catheter care.

“As a result our infection control figures are good, we had one case of MRSA in 2011-12 and were ahead of our targets on C difficile for the fifth year running.

“We also assess people on admission to the hospital for things like their level of risk of falling, their nutritional well being, and their risk of developing a blood clot in order that we can take special measures to avoid associated problems.

“On top of these very important routine practices we also have specific quality improvement programmes each year to further develop safety in key areas.

“During 2012-13 we have been closely monitoring our mortality, which is lower than average, maintaining our good infection control record, reducing waiting times, working to prevent patient falls, and preventing avoidable pressure damage

“All of these things contribute to improved patient safety.

“We monitor safety on a regular basis at both ward and organisational level using methods called ‘quality indicator dashboards’ and the national ‘safety thermometer’ which look at all kinds of outcome measures and inform us of how well we are doing and the standard of care we are providing for our patients.”