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Posted on 3rd October 2016

NHS medical negligence claims hit £1.4bn

In just 8 years the cost of medical negligence claims has risen from £583m to more than £1.4bn.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) handles the claims on behalf of the trusts. It says the rises are due to an increase in the number of claims and legal costs from claimants.

The NHSLA told the BBC that it was trying to reduce the costs.

Over the past five years Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has had one of the highest increases. Their bill rose from £14,000 in 2011 to £981,000 in 2015.

The trust said that their level of claims was "comparable to other mental health trusts".

"We provide high quality care and ensure best practice is shared. Every incident is taken seriously and changes are made if appropriate, the trust continued.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust is not the only Trust to have seen a rise in their negligence bill.

In 2011 Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust claims bill was £12,000, by 2015 this has risen to £304,00.

The trust said that they learn from serious incidents, claims and complaints of clinical negligence.

It is not all bad news. The NHSLA’s annual report stated that new claims fell by 4.6%. The NHSLA look after complaints from CCGs and independent providers of NHS care as well as foundation trusts.

However, figures rise and fall every year due to the long length of time it takes to resolve claims.

Neil Sugarman, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil), told the BBC: "The cost to the NHS of its negligence should come as no surprise, in view of almost daily publicity about poor treatment and avoidable harm."

"It takes a lot of work to prove a claim against a Goliath organisation like the NHS, which holds all the cards and information about the incident, so delays and unnecessary denials are unhelpful and costly.

"The NHSLA is its own worst enemy for pushing up costs against itself by dragging out claims and defending cases needlessly, only then to settle at the door of the court.”

The NHSLA say that the claimant legal costs has risen by 43% in the past year.

Chief executive of the NHSLA Helen Vernon said: "The key to reducing the growing costs of claims is learning from what goes wrong and supporting changes to prevent harm in the first place.

"We want to reduce the need for expensive litigation.

"This means increasing the use of mediation in the NHS, early transparency, saying 'sorry' and demonstrating that lessons have been learned to prevent the incident happening again."

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered an injury as a result of medical or clinical negligence then call our friendly team on 0330 355 9210* where they will take some details and pass them to a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors.