June 3, 2021 11.29 am This story is over 13 months old

Lincolnshire hospital mistakes cost £40m in out-of-court settlements in two years

Failures and delays with treatment and diagnosis among the most common areas

More than £40 million in out-of-court settlements for damages and legal costs was paid to United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust patients and families between 2018 and 2020.

The Lincolnite submitted a Freedom of Information request to the four hospital trusts in Greater Lincolnshire asking for the number of court and out-of-court settlements between 2018 and 2020.

The data provided was for out-of-court settlements. Fewer than five cases went to court, therefore NHS Resolution did not provide in-court data.

The data for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), which runs hospitals in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham, was provided by NHS Resolution for the financial years of 2018/19 and 2019/20.

Some 118 claims amounting to £16,284,524 in damages and legal costs were paid out in 2018/19. During the same period 45 claims were unsuccessful, but legal costs of £125,271 still needed to be processed.

In 2019/20, £23,554,516 was paid out for 125 claims. There were 33 unsuccessful claims during that period, but £153,312 still had to be paid out in legal costs.

The most common reasons patients were offered financial settlements included failures or delays to treatment, failure or delay of diagnosis and ‘intra-op problems’.

There were other rare instances including claimants being ‘hit by an object’ and inadequate nursing care.

When the 118 claims for 2018/19 were broken down by injury, 21 were listed as ‘unnecessary pain’, 17 were for orthopaedic injuries, 17 for fatality and 16 for additional or unnecessary operations.

Of the 125 claims for 2019/20, unnecessary pain was again the highest, with 36 claims. There was also a further 14 for fatalities.

Paul Matthew, ULHT’s Director of Finance and Digital, said: “ULHT is one of the biggest trusts in the country, treating a large number of patients.

“There is a rising trend of compensation claims nationally and every NHS Trust pays an annual contribution into the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts which is administered by an organisation called the NHS Resolution.

“This contribution is similar to an insurance premium, the value is calculated by the NHS Resolution and they settle all claims on behalf of ULHT. Therefore any funds paid out in litigation cases are not paid by ULHT.

“We aim to provide the best quality care to each and every one of our patients. Where mistakes may have occurred, the Trust uses this as an opportunity to learn lessons and improve the quality of care for our patients.”

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust

Over £34 million in damages and more than £13.7 million in legal costs were paid to Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust’s patients and families between 2018 and 2020. The trust runs hospitals in Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole.

This money paid out is broken down as follows:

  • 2018 – £11,975,980, plus legal costs of £6,098,311
  • 2019 – £14,746,513, plus legal costs of £4,383,917
  • 2020 – £7,284,982, plus legal costs of £3,315,603

A pie chart showing the areas Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust had to pay damages/legal costs out for between 2018 and 2020.

The most common areas paid out for during that period were failure/delay diagnosis, fail/delay treatment and inadequate nursing care.

Dr Kate Wood, medical director at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Unfortunately, there are times when things go wrong, and when this happens it is important for us that as a Trust to do everything we can to put things right.

“Part of this process is settling damages to fairly reflect the consequences this has had on our patients and their families. However, this is only one part of a much bigger picture; as a Trust we are committed to learning from our mistakes to ensure that they are not repeated.”

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust specialises in mental health services and 10 claims for Clinical Negligence totalling £9,453,263.20 were paid out to its patients in 2018.

In 2019, £484,411.67 was paid out for four claims of Personal Injury. A further three claims for Personal Injury were paid out for in 2020, totalling £7,713.79.

Sarah Connery, acting Chief Executive of the trust, said: “We have a duty of care to our patients to keep them safe. Where this regrettably falls below the standards we expect and causes harm, it is important that we fairly compensate our patients, and/or their dependents appropriately.

“Sadly, on occasion for a number of reasons this can have a lifelong impact on someone’s health and income, and as such we ensure fair compensation for any losses. Fortunately, patients experiencing harm is rare, but in some cases require significant compensation. The figures in the last few years have included one unusually high payment and in normal years are much lower.

“Where incidents of harm, or near misses occur we work closely with service users, carers and their family to learn lessons and reduce the likelihood of incidents occurring in the future.”

Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust

The FOI response relating to Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust stated that “statistical data which relate to fewer than five people could lead to the identification of individuals – especially when coupled with information already in the public domain” so this information is considered to be “exempt from disclosure”.