Huge cost of hospital blunders as trust pays out £24.4m last year

Witney Gazette: The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust paid out more than £24m last year and is now facing action from Dushka Kirtland and her husband Paul to support brain-damaged son Paul The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust paid out more than £24m last year and is now facing action from Dushka Kirtland and her husband Paul to support brain-damaged son Paul

OXFORDSHIRE paid more for mistakes and blunders than any other hospital authority last year, as cases rocketed 1,000 per cent in under a decade.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust paid out £24.4m in 2012/13, up from £2.3m in 2003/04, when figures were first published.

It means £113.7m has been paid out over the 10 years.

New trust claims rose from 15 in 2003/04 to 84 last year, though the latest claims are unlikely to yet be among the payouts and not all will get cash.

Major sums are often to cover lifelong care costs for children who suffer brain damage as a result of mistakes during birth.

The trust pays premiums to the NHS Litigation Authority which then pays settlements.

Trust premiums have more than doubled to £15.4m.

The trust was unable to say how many cases the payouts cover but said it is one of England’s biggest trusts and offers complex specialist care.

Last month, brain-damaged Louisa Ravouvou, 10, got £10m partly because John Radcliffe medics failed to spot bleeding on the brain before her birth.

In September, Sophie Collins, 22, got an undisclosed sum because doctors did not realise her bowel had ruptured after a car crash aged 11.

The East Oxford resident – who needs four support workers – was left brain damaged because her brain was starved of oxygen.

Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith said: “The staggering rise in medical negligence claims is a national phenomenon, driven in part by a more litigious culture and no-win, no-fee legal support.”

Yet he warned: “Whilst it is right that the victims of negligence have proper compensation, we have to be careful that this rising tide of claims doesn’t cross the line into penalising clinicians who are undertaking the more complex procedures with some inherent risk of going wrong.”

City solicitor Susan Jarvis, who heads Blake Lapthorn’s clinical negligence team, said about a third of her cases are for parents worried about care costs when they can no longer look after their child as an adult.

“Parents realise they are not going to be able to look after their offspring,” she said. “Looking after a baby is very different from looking after an adult.”

Dushka Kirtland is taking action with husband David against the trust to support brain-damaged son Paul, 30. They believe the damage resulted from an infection he caught at the John Radcliffe at his birth in May 1983.

The trust denies negligence.

Mrs Kirtland told the Oxford Mail: “We worry about what will happen for him when we will no longer be able to look after him.

“It did cross our minds before. We were so busy looking after him. It is only the fact that we have lost our parents and you suddenly realise we are next to shuttle off.”

Richard Money-Kyrle, a partner at Darbys solicitors, said of the rise: “Life expectancy is better for severely disabled children and the cost of care for severely disabled children is much more expensive.”

For example, stricter regulations mean more carers are now required to lift people, he said, while rising demand on hospitals increases risk.

No-win, no-fee deals were allowed from 2000 but solicitors can no longer get “success fees” from the NHS.

Mr Money-Kyrle said the “jury is out” on the impact of this. “It means that probably less low value, modest injury cases will be brought.”

Trust medical director Professor Edward Baker said the trust is one of biggest in the country and is a specialist centre for complex care.

He said: “Providing excellent, safe care for our patients is our top priority and, for the overwhelming majority of the one million patients we see every year at our four hospitals, we achieve this.”

Payouts had risen across England, he said, adding: “This is not a reflection of the quality or safety of our services.”

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:18pm Mon 3 Feb 14

SamSpinx says...

I wonder how many many of these people then go on to complain that the NHS isn't doing so well.

In fact, I've got a plan... How about we all sue hospitals entirely out of existence, all of them, then see how we get on.

Modern life isn't fair, but lets face it, go back a few decades and these arguments wouldn't even exist. Isn't that reward enough?

Lets go even further, how much more suffering is potentially going to be caused by the lack of resources from this hole in hospital funding? Who is going to pay for that? It is out of everyone's pocket.
I wonder how many many of these people then go on to complain that the NHS isn't doing so well. In fact, I've got a plan... How about we all sue hospitals entirely out of existence, all of them, then see how we get on. Modern life isn't fair, but lets face it, go back a few decades and these arguments wouldn't even exist. Isn't that reward enough? Lets go even further, how much more suffering is potentially going to be caused by the lack of resources from this hole in hospital funding? Who is going to pay for that? It is out of everyone's pocket. SamSpinx
  • Score: 1

12:52am Tue 4 Feb 14

lil_miss_ME says...

Ok, sometimes it may be doctor error......but other times how can it be proved it wasn't nature (particularly in the case of births) or unreasonable to expect the doctor to recognise it quickly in the event of an accident.....even if they do take a while to diagnose a problem, they aren't mind readers,with X-ray vision. All they can do it try their best and work through reasonable process of elimination when carrying out tests to reach conclusion. Some people are too quick to blame others. The doctors could all refuse to work for fear of being used, and without any doctors where would the victims of these car accident be.....,....not here and alive to cause such a fuss for a start!
I am not saying every case is people pulling a fast one, but equally I don't think the hospital staff are always to blame!
Ok, sometimes it may be doctor error......but other times how can it be proved it wasn't nature (particularly in the case of births) or unreasonable to expect the doctor to recognise it quickly in the event of an accident.....even if they do take a while to diagnose a problem, they aren't mind readers,with X-ray vision. All they can do it try their best and work through reasonable process of elimination when carrying out tests to reach conclusion. Some people are too quick to blame others. The doctors could all refuse to work for fear of being used, and without any doctors where would the victims of these car accident be.....,....not here and alive to cause such a fuss for a start! I am not saying every case is people pulling a fast one, but equally I don't think the hospital staff are always to blame! lil_miss_ME
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree