Medical negligence payments from NHS Forth Valley top £9.7m

Payouts for medical negligence have increased four-fold over the last 10 years, according to recent figures. In 2016-17, �38.3 million was paid out ' up from �9.4 million in 2006-07.
Payouts for medical negligence have increased four-fold over the last 10 years, according to recent figures. In 2016-17, �38.3 million was paid out ' up from �9.4 million in 2006-07.

Payments for medical negligence paid out by NHS Forth Valley in the last five years topped £9.7 million.

Newly released figures have revealed that over the last five years the health board has seen an increase in payouts of 157.85 per cent.

For the 2016-17 financial year, the bill reached £3.8 million.

Although NHS Forth Valley has the eighth largest payout sum of Scottish health boards, it is understandable that larger trusts will have bigger damages bills due to the volume of patients in the area.

A more accurate picture emerges from examining payouts per “episode of care”, based on the number of services being provided.

According to the BBC shared data unit, if the data is looked at in the context of the size of hospital trusts, the mistakes for NHS Forth Valley cost the second highest in relation to its payouts bill for its size.

This reveals that NHS Forth Valley paid out £33.83 per “episode of care”, with only NHS Tayside paying more at £36.39.

A spokesman for NHS Forth Valley said: “The level of legal settlements fluctuates year-on- year based on the number, value and timing of individual settlements.

“For example, payouts related to complex cases can often occur many years after the event and are not related to the number of episodes of care.

“There have been a small number of higher value 
individual settlements during the last two years and these have significantly increased the totals reported for this period. When reviewed over a longer period, the settlements made by NHS Forth Valley are in line with the Scottish average.”

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, said: “It is disappointing to see NHS Forth Valley having to pay so much in compensation.

“Every effort must be made to reduce waste in our NHS so that as much of the already constrained resources can be spent on providing the care patients deserve.”

Those NHS boards with the highest total payout sums in Scotland over the five year period were NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (£53.5 million); NHS Lothian (£32.8 million) and NHS Lanarkshire (£26.5 million).

While on a national level, the NHS in Scotland’s medical negligence claims paid out annually have risen four-fold in the past decade. In 2016-2017, £38.3m was paid – up from £9.4m in 2006-2007.

However, NHS Scotland has paid a total of £192.9m in medical negligence claims to patients over five years between 2012-2017.

The country’s health boards are forking out large sums for historical cases, with around £4.5m paid out in Scotland in 2016-17 for incidents that happened before 1998.

Payments for maternity care failings have reduced over the past ten years.

In 2007-08, obstetrics accounted for 80 per cent of all payouts, but in 2016-17 this had fallen to 39 per cent.

Maternity cases can take years to emerge however, before the consequences for the child become apparent.

Professor Jason Leitch, Scottish Government clinical director for healthcare quality and improvement, explained that lessons are being learned.

He said: “Particularly, in rare cases of clinical negligence, boards and care professionals must learn from these situations and make improvements. As part of our commitment to transparency, improving standards and learning lessons when something goes wrong, we are introducing a statutory organisational duty of candour.

“This will make it a legal requirement for all care providers to review certain types of adverse events, meet personally with those affected, and to publish an annual report to support openness and learning.”