Medical blunders costing East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust millions

A total of 57m. has been paid out by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust in the past five years
A total of 57m. has been paid out by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust in the past five years
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Millions of pounds are being spent every year on medical mistakes by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, new figures have revealed.

Blunders at the Trust, which runs Burnley General and Royal Blackburn teaching hospitals, have seen a total of £57m. paid out during the last five years.

Out of 258 trusts across the country, ELHT ranks 23rd. However, it places 86th once its size and the number of patients seen is taken into account.

The sums paid out by ELHT are as follows:

• 2012-13 – £ 8,996,328.38;

• 2013-14 – £ 10,120,235.72.

• 2014-15 – £ 10,391,617.89.

• 2015-16 – £ 11,218,677.33.

• 2016-17 – £16,356,229.99.

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

An inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee in November warned that pressures on the NHS could see the litigation bill “spiralling out of control without effective action”.

Damian Riley, Medical Director for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Our aim is to provide a safe, personal and effective service to every person in our care and for the vast majority of the 700,000 people we treat, that is the case.

“Unfortunately, there are a very small number of occasions when things don’t go as expected or the standard of care provided falls below our aspirations. When mistakes are made, it is right that patients are compensated adequately to enable them to secure future care and social needs.

“Here at ELHT, we place great importance on learning from mistakes, and we proactively share that learning with staff throughout the Trust.”

The £57m. figure takes into account historical failings, which cover victims of mistakes made before April 1995 in England.

Money is still being paid out for historical cases as legal battles can take many years, with new claims also being received for decades-old incidents.

ELHT has paid out a total of £2.7m in the past five years for these historical cases of which 58% relate to hospital failings during childbirth.

Nationally, the Department of Health has paid out £152m., including legal fees, during the same time frame. Hospital failings during childbirth account for more than two-thirds of this cost.

And experts have warned that these same mistakes are still being repeated in labour wards today.

A spokesman for the Department of Health 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.”