Historical medical blunders cost Chesterfield Royal Hospital £1.6m

Chesterfield Royal Hospital has paid out more than £1.6m in the last five years for historical medical blunders, we can reveal.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 4:55 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 5:00 pm
Chesterfield Royal Hospital...

The payouts, including legal fees, were made to victims of mistakes made before April 1995.

The hospital is ranked 29th in the country for the overall amount paid out.

A Chesterfield Royal Hospital spokesman said: “We have a legal duty to provide safe, high-standards of care. When an incident happens we always carry out a thorough open and transparent investigation, regardless of when it’s brought to our attention.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“If we find that our care was negligent, it is our responsibility to address the issue - and offer an apology as well as our full support to the patient, their families and NHS Resolution. We aim to provide a timely outcome that both sides agree on.

“To help us learn from incidents we welcome the opportunity to work with patients and their families, to share what we’ve learned and to enable them to influence the changes and improvements they’d like to see happen.”

The figures show the hospital paid out £99,396.25 in 2012/2013, £1,067,349.01 in 2013/2014, £178,842.74 in 2014/2015, 156,486.56 in 2015/2016 and £108,257.79 in 2016/2017.

Overall, the hospital has forked out £1.610,332.35.

Nearby Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is ranked fifth overall, paying out £6,263,104.

Nationally, the Department of Health has paid out £152m, including legal fees, for blunders made before April 1995 in England.

Hospital failings during childbirth account for more than two-thirds of this cost.

Reasons why money is still being paid out for historical cases include:

- Legal battles can take many years

- New claims are still being received for decades-old incidents

- It can be years before patients or families realise they may have a claim for compensation

- Sometimes, assessments about a child’s life-long care needs can only be made when they are older

A Department for 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 data came from NHS Resolution, formerly known as the NHS Litigation Authority, in England.

A spokesman for NHS Resolution said: “Incidents in maternity account for 10 per cent of the number of claims we receive each year but 50 per cent of the expected cost of the claims.

"This is because of the very high cost of cases which tragically involve brain damage at birth where provision must be made for life-long and complex care needs.”

Separately, NHS figures show Chesterfield Royal Hospital is missing its A&E and cancer care target, but is meeting its planned operations and care target.

The A&E target requires hospitals to treat and discharge or admit or transfer a patient within fours for 95 per cent of cases. Chesterfield Royal Hospital is slightly under on 92.5 per cent.

The cancer target expects patients to be treated within 62 days of an urgent referral for 85 per cent of cases. The Royal managed 74.4 per cent.

For planning operations, also known as non-emergency operations, it is expected a 92 per cent target to be hit. The Royal recorded 92.1 per cent.

Last year a Care Quality Commission inspection rated the Royal hospital as ‘good’.

On the targets, a Chesterfield Royal Hospital spokesman said: “In line with national trends the trust has experienced increased referrals and demand for cancer services. Our teams are working hard both internally and with partner organisations across the region to ensure patients are seen and treated in a timely manner. We recognise the importance of seeing and treating patients with a suspected cancer as quickly as possible and have established an improvement plan that is delivering improved outcomes. We will continue to work hard to implement improvement action, ensuring that our services meet national standards and provide high quality care to our patients.”