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Medical mistakes cost east London trusts millions last year, NHS data shows

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 November 2019

East London's NHS trusts paid out millions to patients claiming against misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis last year, NHS data shows. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

East London's NHS trusts paid out millions to patients claiming against misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis last year, NHS data shows. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

East London's NHS trusts pay millions to patients claiming compensation for misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose illnesses and conditions, NHS data shows.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) paid more than £8.9million to settle 18 claims against it in the 12 months from April 2018 - the seventh highest amount in England.

"The safety of our patients is our highest priority," said Magda Smith, the trust's chief medical officer. "We treat hundreds of thousands of patients every year and do everything possible to provide the very best care to every patient.

"Sadly, on occasion, things can go wrong and we are extremely sorry when this happens."

She added BHRUT encourages staff to report incidents and near misses to prevent harm to patients in the future.

The Department of Health easily topped the table for claims payments with more than £21m in 2018-19 (it handles claims against trusts that no longer exist or when cases can't be attributed to a single body).

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The trust for Newham and Tower Hamlets came 10th in England for the number of claims brought against it. With 20 claims Barts Health paid out more than £6.7m.

A trust spokesman said: "We are one of the busiest trusts in the country, seeing more than 6,500 patients every day, as such we would expect to receive more claims.

"We continue to learn from claims to improve the care we provide to our patients."

In total, the NHS was found liable for 1,441 cases relating to wrongful, failed or delayed diagnosis, costing £370m.

"[Cases] range from the relatively trivial things like missed fractures, to the saddest cases which can result in a loss of life, such as missed cancer cases," according to Vince Shore, head of clinical negligence at Hudgell Solicitors.

The amount paid to cover claims is a huge cost for the NHS and the public sector. Around £2.4billion was paid out to cover clinical and non-clinical claims in 2018/18, according to an NHS Resolution annual report.

With the cost of a junior doctor coming to around £163,000 (with student loans on top of that), the NHS could train around 14,700 more with the money it pays in claims.

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