Medical ‘blunders’ by KGH result in payouts totalling almost £28m

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Medical negligence claims against Kettering General Hospital have seen payouts worth almost £28m in the past five years.

The claims include £8,280,790.53 in damages alone during 2016-17, more than the total payouts for each of the four years before that.

KGH pays into an annual NHS scheme called the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts to cover such claims, meaning payments don’t come out of KGH’s funds.

All of the payouts were for incidents after 1995, with the total costs leaving KGH 100th out of 258 trusts when it comes to the amount settled.

A KGH spokesman said: “Kettering General Hospital takes patient safety extremely seriously and we work very hard at a number of levels to maintain the very high standards demanded of NHS organisations.

“We monitor safety incidents of every kind and scrutinise any trends at board level.

“We log and investigate all incidents and encourage our staff to report them.

“We have safe systems of work so that all staff know the safest way to look after our patients.

“In addition we aim to develop a strong safety culture within the organisation through frequent internal campaigns around potential harms.

“Where mistakes are made we aim to learn from them and the NHSLA (NHS Litigation Authority) ensures that any legal claims are settled fairly.”

The payouts do not necessarily relate to incidents that took place in that particular year.

Some complex claims take many years to be settled and the amount settled in any particular year cannot be used to measure the safety of an organisation.

A Department of Health spokesman 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.”

The figures were made public after an investigation by the BBC local news partnership analysed litigation payments from NHS trusts across the country.

The Department of Health and NHS Resolution have put forward several measures to cut medical negligence costs in England.

This includes: a plan to cap the fees legal firms can recoup from the taxpayer when they win low-value cases, a plan to resolve more medical negligence cases before they go to court, a proposal to introduce a voluntary alternative compensation scheme for infants who have suffered avoidable brain injury at birth, and cash incentives for trusts which take steps to make maternity services safer.

Payouts by year

2012-13:

Damages: £3,976,396.98

Defence costs: £328,445.60

Claimant costs: £985,152.10

Total payouts: £5,289,994.68

2013-14:

Damages: £3,310,095.53

Defence costs: £262,870.46

Claimant costs: £597,261.53

Total payouts: £4,170,227.52

2014-15:

Damages: £778,637.75

Defence costs: £215,235.61

Claimant costs: £1,210,100.77

Total payouts: £2,203,974.13

2015-16:

Damages: £3,270,141.33

Defence costs: £525,771.43

Claimant costs: £1,125,842.99

Total payouts: £4,921,755.75

2016-17:

Damages: £8,280,790.53

Defence costs: £675,872.30

Claimant costs: £2,408,714.15

Total payouts: £11,365,376.98

Total payouts from 2012-2017: £ 27,951,329.06