Hospitals trust pays out £3m in claims

A HOSPITAL trust paid out more than £3m in negligence claims is just 12 months.

Claims against North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust totalled £3,158,152 in the 2010/11 financial year.

There were a total of 94 claims paid out against the trust, 60 for clinical negligence and 34 where they have been non-clinical.

The figures, released by the NHS Litigation Authority, show that claims worth a total of £1,038,718 were paid out to patients following negligent obstetric treatment, the area of medicine relating to childbirth and maternity.

There have been no details released on the background and reasons that any of the claims were paid out.

It came after the trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, paid out £4,344,684 in insurance costs to cover such claims.

Director of nursing, patient safety and quality for the trust, Sue Smith, said: “The costs we pay are similar to people’s own insurance policies for their cars or homes, but obviously on a much larger scale.

“The insurance costs reflect the risks of providing services and cover the trust and compensate some patients when, sadly, things go wrong.

“We have to achieve a complicated set of risk management standards which help keep the costs down and our insurance payments are reduced because of the high standards we achieve. Maternity risk management standards are separate from the other areas of our services because of the risks associated with them.

“Over the years we have put in very many checks and balances to protect patients and staff. For example we use the World Health Organisation’s checklist before every operation begins. This is like a pre-flight check to ensure everything is as it should be before a flight takes off.

“Our organisation depends on all of us getting it right 100 per cent of the time. While this is the ideal, sadly things do go wrong and, when that happens, we are open with patients and their families. We explain what has happened and what, if it’s possible, we are doing to put things right.

“We also look at all our incidents so we can learn from them.”

In the same period, there was £20,330 paid out for non-clinical claims against NHS Hartlepool, compared to £30,155 paid in insurance contributions.

County Durham and Darlington PCT saw £33,662 in clinical claims paid out and £19,018 in non-clinical paid outs, a total of £52,680.

This is compared to £158,147 in contributions paid by the trust.

l Have you had a successful claim against the NHS? If so ring the Mail newsdesk on (01429) 239381.