NHS negligence payouts exceed £1bn

NHS clinical negligence payouts broke through the £1billion mark for the first time last year, new figures reveal.

A report to Parliament from the NHS Litigation Authority showed the total bill for claims in 2010-2011 cost £1.04billion. The amount paid out in damages for clinical negligence totalled £499.5million, while claims worth a further £547.3million were settled to be paid out through “periodical payment orders”.

The figures reveal that last year’s payouts increased by a third compared to the previous year’s £770million. In 2008-2009, NHS LA paid out £278million in damages, compared to £267million in 2009-2010. The figures for periodical payment orders remained more stable, totalling £552million in 2008-2009, £504million in 2009-2010 and £547million in 2010-2011.

In the past three years, clinical negligence claims have cost the NHS £2.6billion. Average damages have not changed significantly in the past three years, but overall defence costs and claimant costs have risen sharply. For claims settled with damages payouts, defence costs have risen from £35.9million in a year to £59.7million, while claimant costs have more than doubled, from £95.9million to £192.5million.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "There are a number of reasons costs may have increased over the past few years, such as the cost of legal fees and the effects of court judgments that set legal precedents on how settlements should be assessed."

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