South Tyneside hospital trust pays out £19million in clinical negligence claims

South Tyneside District Hospital.
South Tyneside District Hospital.

NHS bosses in South Tyneside paid out almost £20million in medical damages to patients over a five-year period.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust was forced to cough up £4,478,599.44 in 2012/13, £1,468,285.69 in 2013/14, £5,192,994.78 in 2014/15, £4,770,467.01 in 2015/16 and £3,986,231.81 in the last financial year for 2016/17.

Whilst thankfully, these incidents are very rare, each one offers an opportunity for learning in order to prevent the same thing happening again

NHS Resolution spokesman

The figures, which were obtained by the BBC by means of a Freedom of Information request, make a five-year total of £19,896,578.83.

The amount is made up of damages, defence costs and claimant costs.

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.”

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

“Whilst thankfully, these incidents are very rare, each one offers an opportunity for learning in order to prevent the same thing happening again.

“Next year we will be offering an incentive payment of up to 10% of a trust’s maternity premium for those who can show that they have implemented 10 maternity safety actions, as set out in the Maternity Safety Strategy.

“In the past, it has taken a long time for these incidents to come to the attention of NHS Resolution as a claim for compensation.”

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust was contacted for a comment but was still to respond.