Medical blunders cost Portsmouth NHS trust close to £63m

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MEDICAL blunders have cost the NHS in Portsmouth nearly £63m, an investigation has found.

The payouts relate ‘to a handful of extremely sad and complex individual cases,’ the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital, said.

Payouts from historical litigation – cases that happened before 1995 – totalled £2.88m between 2012/13 and 2016/17. All of those relate to maternity care.

Litigation, including claims made before 1995 and post-1995 has cost the trust £62.78m in the same period.

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 warned.

Theresa Murphy, chief nurse for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘The hospital trust treats all such claims very seriously, and ensures that learning from each situation is applied to further improve the safety and quality of care for our patients.

‘Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest maternity centres in the south, with 5,797 babies born in 2016-17, among the country’s highest rates of birth.

‘We, and all NHS Trusts, contribute to the NHS Resolution (NHSR) Clinical Negligence scheme. We make annual contributions to this scheme based on the size of our organisation and our claims history.

NHSR supports NHS Hospital Trusts similar to an insurance organisation, making direct payments to patients in claims cases.

‘NHSR payments for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust relate to a handful of extremely sad and complex individual cases.

‘Payments are often made periodically over the life of the patient, which explains why there are payments still being made in respect of pre-1995 cases.’

For Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust’s pre-1995 payouts, damages cost the trust £8.68m, while legal costs - for defending the claim and the winning claimant – cost £538,000 and £2.17m respectively.

In 2016/17, maternity and neonatal care represented around 10 per cent of all overall claims in England but 50 per cent of their monetary value.

The Department of Health said it had a ‘relentless drive’ to improve patient safety. It has consulted on proposals to fix costs legal firms can recover from negligence cases up to £25,000.

Investigation by the BBC Local News partnership with Johnston Press.