Latest figures show NHS medical negligence costs have soared but how does Lancashire Teaching Hospitals compare?

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Latest figures from the NHS show that the NHS’ compensation bill for medical negligence has risen to new heights in the past year, however the main trust serving Preston appears to buck the trend.

According to data by NHS Resolution, the body which pays out for medical negligence claims, they gave out £2.4 billion in damages and legal costs across England in 2021/22, a 9% rise from 2020/21.

Moreover, the sum needed to meet the future cost of damages payments has risen by 52% in a year to £128.2 billion, a figure similar to the NHS’ entire annual budget.

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However, when considering Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTR), which provides services for Greater Preston and includes Royal Preston Hospital, and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, the picture is slightly different.

Nationally NHS medical negligence costs have risen this year, find out what the sitation was for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust.Nationally NHS medical negligence costs have risen this year, find out what the sitation was for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust.
Nationally NHS medical negligence costs have risen this year, find out what the sitation was for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust.

According to NHS Resolution, the number of successful claims from 2020/21 to 2021/22 actually remained the same, at 62. Although this number is still fairly high for the 2021/22 period, resting at the 34th most claims out of the 183 with any, and compared to the 69 without, the trust has avoided seeing the rise of many others.

In terms of the cost, the amount being paid out on behalf of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals even decreased, from 32,891,282 in 2020/21 - when the trust had the 15th most expensive bill out of those with one - to 5,093,707 in 2021/22, when the trust falls in the middle of the table.

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The latest figures by NHS resolution also shows how much trusts have to pay to be part of the body’s risk-pooling scheme which settles claims on their behalf.

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Individual hospital trusts, like LTHTR, do not generally pay their own medical negligence bills, instead they come through NHS Resolution, a scheme in which providers with higher-value claims pay higher membership fees.

Out of the 219 trusts that are members of the scheme, LTHTR had the 38th highest costing membership in 2021/22, therefore sitting in the top 20%, suggesting they are in the top 20% for number of expensive claims.

However, it is difficult to make fair comparisons between different hospitals’ negligence bills, because those which are busier, and which offer riskier procedures, will attract more claims than quieter hospitals.

Moreover those with maternity services, such as Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, will usually have larger bills than those without, because maternity payouts can be particularly costly. Lastly, hospitals which have been in NHS Resolution schemes for longer can have more claims, as cases can date back many years. LTHTR joined the scheme in 2002, which means it is in the middle of the pack, with the first trust joining in 1992 and the last in 2020.

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Of the £2.4 billion paid out in damages and legal costs in the year to March 2022, £2.2 billion was from NHS Resolution’s main scheme for hospitals.The number of claims settled through this hospital scheme in the year, 10,078, was similar to the year before. The rising cost of the scheme is instead down to the growing financial cost of average settlements.

A Lancashire Teaching Hospitals spokesperson said: “The Trust recognises the significant expenditure across the NHS related to clinical negligence.

“In 2021, the Trust developed an Always Safety First strategy, which includes our commitment to learning from claims and continuously improving outcomes for patients.”

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