NHS pays out £40million in medical damages claims in Sunderland

The group is concerned about the future of the NHS and services at hospitals including Sunderland Royal.
The group is concerned about the future of the NHS and services at hospitals including Sunderland Royal.

NHS bosses in Sunderland paid out more than £40million in medical damages claims over the last five years.

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust paid £7,435,021.52 in 2012/13, £7,407,136.83 in 2013/14, £5,238,902.65 in 2014/15, £9,806,690.03 in 2015/16 and £10,802,055.18 in the last financial year for 2016/17.

Our first and absolute priority is to provide the highest standards of care to all of our patients

Paul McAndrew, Deputy Medical Director at City Hospitals Sunderland

The figures, which were obtained by the BBC by means of a Freedom of Information request, make a five-year total of £40,845,280.87.

Just over £1million – £1,050,775 – of the total payout was in relation to medical mistakes which occurred prior to April 1995. The majority of that figure related to maternity care and involve injuries to mothers and babies.

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

Paul McAndrew, Deputy Medical Director at City Hospitals Sunderland, said: “As a trust we treat thousands of people every year, from minor injuries to highly complex medical issues.

“Our first and absolute priority is to provide the highest standards of care to all of our patients and the feedback that we receive shows that in the majority of cases, we do this very well.

“We continually look at what we can learn from talking to our patients as well as other NHS trusts and services and improving services and patient experience will always be at the heart of everything we do.”

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.”