Sunderland hospital legal payouts soar to £6million

Sunderland Royal Hospital entrance

Sunderland Royal Hospital entrance

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NEGLIGENCE payouts and legal fees have cost hospital bosses on Wearside £6million.

City Hospitals Sunderland was forced to hand out £6,237,445 in cash settlements during the past year – up more than £1.6million on the previous 12 months.

Erbs Palsy sufferer Callum Jacques with mum Anna, younger brother Louis, six, and sister Lauren, 16.

Erbs Palsy sufferer Callum Jacques with mum Anna, younger brother Louis, six, and sister Lauren, 16.

The payouts follow claims where operations or births have gone wrong.

While hospital bosses say a rise in patient numbers at Sunderland Royal Hospital has contributed to the multimillion-pound payouts, those awarded settlements say more care needs to be taken.

Anna Jacques, 34, helped win a £175,000 payout for her 15-year-old son Callum, after hospital doctors failed to diagnose a form of paralysis known as Erbs Palsy.

Anna, of Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, said: “The amount of money he received was a disgrace when you consider the level of disability he now has.

“The money is being held by the court for Callum until he turns 18.”

Immediately after Callum’s birth, doctors told Anna that his right shoulder was swollen but would mend itself in time.

The mum-of-three said: “We knew he was going to be a big baby, and I wanted to have a Caesarean section, which I’d already had with Callum’s sister, Lauren, but they just kept telling me that there was nothing like a natural birth and insisted that I went through with it.

“But during the birth, he became stuck by the shoulders, and this went on to damage all the nerves in his neck.”

Callum would later be diagnosed with Erbs Palsy. He has since had more than 10 operations in a bid to give him more movement in his shoulder and arm area.

Anna said: “Last year he had another operation, but he has now decided against any more. The last one was so horrendous, he just said ‘enough is enough’.”

Callum, a pupil at Monkwearmouth School, is just one example of a number of cases during 2011/2012 where payouts were made.

At the beginning of 2011, a six-year-old Wearside boy won a multimillion-pound payout after suffering oxygen starvation during his birth at Sunderland Royal Hospital. City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, agreed to a settlement of his case on the basis of 70 per cent liability.

Angela Kirtley, a medical law and patients’ rights expert from Irwin Mitchell’s North East office, said: “Patient safety should be the number one point of concern for all NHS Trusts.

“As a firm, we represent patients whose lives have been devastated as a result of negligence whilst under the care of hospitals throughout the country, often as a result of systemic failures.

“We see first-hand the impact their injuries have on them and their families, as well as how the compensation they receive helps to fund a lifetime of rehabilitation, care and equipment that enables them to live as normal a life as possible despite their injuries.

“Every single case provides an opportunity for lessons to be learnt and appropriate measures to be put in place to ensure the same thing never happens again.”

A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland added: “Litigation costs have risen in recent years throughout the NHS in line with a dramatic increase in patient numbers and increasing legal awareness generally.

“It is an inevitable fact that although we believe City Hospitals to be one of the leading trusts in the country with some of the best staff and facilities available anywhere, in an organisation which deals in matters of life and death, legal costs are a fact of life.”

Twitter: @craigjourno

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