West Suffolk hospital: how much are medical errors costing them?

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West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, has been faced with a medical negligence bill 10 times larger than last year, research has found.

The hospital, which just last month had its ‘outstanding’ rating demoted to ‘requires improvement’, had a medical negligence bill of £9.1 million in 2018/19. Yet in 2017/18, only £895,000 was spent as a result of medical errors.

The East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust had the largest bill, with £10.1 million being paid out across 78 medical negligence claims. Over £6 million of that went towards midwifery and childbirth claims.

Suffolk and north Essex’s hospitals, combined with mental health trusts and the ambulance service, had a total bill of £24.9m.

James Paget Hospital, in Great Yarmouth, saw almost an £8million decrease in medical negligence bills. In 2018/19, they paid out £2.9m, compared to their £10m bill in 2017/18.

Mental health trust Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) paid out £680,000, while Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) paid out £959,000.

One of the settlements paid out by NSFT was for the family of Henry-Curtis Williams, who tragically died after being incorrectly discharged from a mental health unit.

Henry’s mother, Pippa, sought help from Ashtons Legal to represent her throughout the claim.

Pippa explained that NSFT ‘continue to put vulnerable people’s lives at risk by ploughing extortionate amounts of money into ineffective management structures.’

Kate Smith, who acted on behalf of Henry’s family, adds: ‘These figures suggest that the trusts involved are not learning from previous incidents involving patient safety. Damages awarded to claimants are done so following careful assessment and investigation as to the value of the claim.

‘I represented Pippa following the loss of her son Henry. We worked closely with her and her family throughout the inquest process and following this, during the negotiation of a settlement. There is no doubt in cases like Henry’s that no amount of money will be enough to compensate for the tragedy the family has been through. It however cannot be ignored when failings have occurred and families deserve both answers and compensation.’


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