Hospital’s compensation pay-outs soar to over £2m

PUBLISHED: 11:00 27 May 2011 | UPDATED: 14:49 27 May 2011

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LEGAL costs and compensation pay-outs to patients arising from claims made against Weston General Hospital have rocketed by nearly £2million in one year.

New figures have shown the cost of damages for alleged clinical negligence at the hospital shot up from £390,000 in 2007-08 and £470,000 in 2008-09 to £2.2million in 2009-10. This includes £1.275million paid out in settlements and £968,000 in legal costs prior and during hearings.

The increase follows a rise in the number of claims launched in the year before, when 44 were made during 2008-09, compared to 18 and 11 in the years before. The total bill for 2009-10 is the equivalent cost of nearly 80 nurses, earning a salary of £28,000.

The statistics have been disclosed by the NHS Litigation Authority, which handles compensation payments for hospital trusts.

And while the vast bulk of settlements is paid for by the national organisation, the hospital’s managing trust is asked to pay contributions each year to the Clinical 
Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST).

Following the increase in pay-outs, this contribution rose from £486,000 in 2008-09 to £788,000 in 2009-10 for Weston Area Health Trust.

This is calculated on factors including hospital size, type and the level of assessed risk.

The NHS Litigation Authority says nearly half of claims are settled out of court in favour of the patients.

Recent claimants against Weston General Hospital include the family of Doreen Zoller, whose life, it was claimed, could have been saved or lengthened if she was diagnosed correctly.

Her daughter Wendy, of Greenhill Road, said the family launched a claim following her death in 2008, receiving a pay-out settlement last October.

She said: “These figures are shocking and speak volumes for how the hospital is doing in reality.

“We can only hope lessons have been learnt from our mother’s experience.”

Yesterday (Weds), a spokesman from Weston Area Health Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “The trust has an indemnity against clinical negligence claims with the NHS Litigation Authority which deals with the cases.

“As you are aware, such claims can take many years to come to settlement, so the 2009/10 figures will not relate directly to the calendar year 2009/10 and they may relate to one clinical negligence case or several from many different branches of clinical practice.”

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