MILLIONS of pounds have been paid in compensation to people who have suffered negligence at Dorset County Hospital.
Problems with diagnosis, operations, labour, infections and even unexpected death have seen more than £6million paid out since 2009.
The hospital has also racked up more than £600,000 in defence costs - even though none of the matters got to court. A total of 76 claims were settled in the period, including 26 for treatments or procedure - including surgery.
The amount has been labelled ‘disappointing’ by patient governors. Due to the way data is collated, the hospital can only provide figures up to March, 31 2013.
But as reported in the Echo in October, a little boy left in a wheelchair is due a ‘huge’ payout due to injuries he suffered prior to his birth in 2002.
His compensation is not included in the figures revealed today.
Money is paid out from risk pooling scheme the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA).
The hospital says its payments are ‘in line’ with other hospitals nationally.
A hospital spokesman said: “The Trust participates in a Risk Pooling Scheme known as the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) and this is operated by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA). “The costs associated with claims are paid from this scheme.
“The Trust receives information from the NHSLA in relation to its claims status and this confirms that the number of claims, distribution across clinical specialties and financial values are in line with both the regional and national position.”
Due to data protection, information about the individuals who have received compensation can’t be revealed.
The NHSLA says the figures should not be interpreted as a league table because due to the different sizes and treatments offered by each NHS Trust ‘inevitably different institutions face different levels of risk.’ The hospital can only provide the date the case was settled, not the date of the incident, which means some may have taken place before 2009.
But a patient governor has said he is ‘not happy’ to have to learn about the payouts from the Echo.
Andy Hutchings said: “I am a publically elected governor.
“I was not happy to learn about this from the Echo.
“It would have been nice, as a publically elected governor, to have been informed.”
A solicitor who specialises in negligence claims says that for families, taking legal action is about getting answers rather than getting a pay-out.
Emma Jones, who works for Leigh Day, takes on cases from across the country - including Dorset. She said there ‘are issues at Dorset’ although the firm is not currently dealing with any cases related to Dorset County Hospital. She said it is currently involved in cases against 30 other NHS trusts across the country. Ms Jones said: “Sometimes people resort to litigation because they believe it’s the only way they’re going to get answers.
“They want to make sure those in charge realise what’s going on and hopefully changes will be made.”
The facts and figures
2009 Total payments: £232,396.15
Defence costs: £9,545.16 2010
Total payments: £1,644,351.39
Defence costs: £121,651.33 2011
Total payments: £1,256,434.80
Defence costs:£265,291.35 2012
Total payments: £2,494,014.25
Defence costs.: £148,320.16 2013
Total payments: £753,329.04
Defence costs: £84,579.88
REASONS FOR PAYOUTS
Needlestick injury: 1
Treatments or procedure, including surgical: 26
Tests and test results: 5
Collision/ contact with an object: 2
Theft/ damage/ missing property: 1
Patient moving/ handling/ positioning: 4
Clinical or risk assessment: 2
Blood loss: 1
Pressure ulcer: 1
Unexpected/ unavoidable death/ stillbirth: 1
Infection: 2 Slips, trips and falls: 4
Labour/ delivery management: 2
Anger over 'unnecessary jobs' at NHS
DORSET’S healthcare services have also today been criticised for paying out for ‘unnecessary jobs.’ The Tax Payers’ Alliance has released a list of salaries of employees it does not believe ‘deliver value for money.’ Making it on to the list of ‘best paid unnecessary jobs’ in the UK is the role of Deputy Director of Engagement and Communications for Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, with an annual salary of £72,358.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers expect the health budget to be spent on real doctors, not spin doctors. The NHS employs far too many people in jobs that do nothing to deliver frontline patient care.
“It’s time for health chiefs to launch a war on waste and ensure the NHS budget is spent on patients rather than squandered on bureaucrats."
NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Officer, Tim Goodson said: “Whilst the specific post of Deputy Director of Engagement and Communications is no longer part of the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group structure, we value the engagement and communications function as it enables us to hear the views of local people and ensure we are taking them into account when commissioning local services.
“In common with other NHS organisations, staff positions within NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group are appointed at nationally agreed pay-scales.”
On the list for ‘unnecessary jobs in the South West’ is Dorset County Hospital’s part-time Arts in Hospital Co-ordinator, a role which the Taxpayers’ Alliance says has a salary of £29,759.
A hospital spokesman said: “Arts in Hospital is a small, charitable organisation based at Dorset County Hospital.
“The Trust funds the arts co-ordinator role to organise and source charitable funding for a range of therapeutic art projects to support our patients.
“Recent projects have included art and music therapy to support the needs of patients with dementia and a video project with our kidney dialysis patients to create a teaching tool for patients and staff.
“The overwhelming feedback we get from patients is that the influence of Arts in Hospital enhances their experience.
“The salary quoted for the arts co-ordinator is a full-time salary – our post holder is part-time, working three days a week, so the salary is just over £17,000.
“Arts in Hospital raises over £42,000 each year for hospital projects so the Trust’s investment in the co-ordinator role is paid back more than two-fold each year.”
Governor’s call for ‘complete transparency’ on payments
A PATIENT governor has called for ‘complete transparency’ as he said he was unaware of the payouts until the Echo requested this information.
Derek Julian said he was disappointed to learn of the sum. He added: “The hospital does not belong to the chief executive, or the governors - it belongs to the public.
“They have a right to know what’s going on.
“I didn’t know anything about these payments. We need complete transparency.
“Governors and the public should be informed about what’s going on at their hospital.”