Historic medical 'blunders' cost Northampton General Hospital nearly £29m in past five years

Northampton General Hospital does not directly pay for negligence claims, and instead, pay into a national fund.
Northampton General Hospital does not directly pay for negligence claims, and instead, pay into a national fund.

Medical negligence claims against Northampton General Hospital have seen payouts worth almost £29m in the past five years.

The claims include over £5.7m in damages paid out during 2016-17 alone for historic medical mistakes.

It comes as it is revealed some £152million was paid out by the Department of Health to victims of mistakes made before April 1995 across the country in the past five years.

NGH pays into an annual NHS scheme called the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts to cover such claims, meaning payments do not come out of NGH's funds.

All of the payouts were for incidents after 1995, with the total costs leaving NGH 98th out of the country's 258 trusts for payouts.

A spokesperson for Northampton General Hospital said: “We carry out tens of thousands of operations and procedures every year and we strive to carry them out safely and without error. We are very sorry when our care falls short of those standards.

“We have a strong safety culture that the Care Quality Commission recognised when they recently inspected our services In the small number of cases where things do go wrong, we investigate thoroughly and we have a programme of learning from incidents to continuously improve our services and the safety of our patients.”

Hospital failings during childbirth account for more than two-thirds of the costs (nationwide) while only taking up around 10 per cent of overall claims. These pay-outs are particularly large if a child is left disabled, as they are intended to pay for a child's upkeep for the rest of it's life.

It comes after the Government last year decided that lump-sum damages payments should be larger from March 2017 onwards, to compensate victims for low-interest rates.

The figures were made public after an investigation by the BBC local news partnership analysed litigation payments from NHS trusts across the country.

The Department of Health and NHS Resolution say they will put forward measures to cut medical negligence costs in England, including plans resolve more cases before they go to court and a proposal to introduce a voluntary alternative compensation scheme for infants who have suffered avoidable brain injury at birth.