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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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£11m compensation paid out last year on behalf of North Cumbria's hospitals

Patients at north Cumbria’s two hospitals were paid £11 million in compensation last year for medical blunders, including £8 million for problem births.

Cumberland Infirmary photo
The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

The figure – among the highest in England and Wales – was paid out by the NHS Litigation Authority on behalf of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

Figures from the authority show £10,750,997 was paid in compensation for clinical negligence – including £8,218,314 for obstetric negligence claims – and £262,237 for non-medical insurance matters, such as property damage or theft during the financial year 2011/12. In the previous year, just over £2m was paid out.

The authority said payouts can result from historical claims which go back years and it did not reveal details of individual compensation cases.

During the year, there were 48 claims lodged against the hospital trust, 33 for medical negligence and 15 for non-medical. The amount of compensation paid out for obstetric claims was in the top 10 highest nationally, out of 177 health trusts.

Although the litigation authority has not released details of individual cases, it is likely they will include an 11-year-old girl who was given £5.6 million compensation in January – including a £2.3m lump sum – after a court heard she was completely dependant on others because of the extensive damage she had suffered.

The mother of the girl, who is from north Cumbria but who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a placental abruption before and during her delivery and the birth at the Cumberland Infirmary.

London’s High Court was told hospital staff missed indicators of this and the birth was unnecessarily delayed. Her brain was starved of oxygen because of the delays, meaning she was not breathing when she was born and had a heart rate of just 80 beats per minute.

Although resuscitated, she suffered extensive brain damage and now has very limited mobility, severe mental problems and needs round-the-clock care from her parents. Her life expectancy is also reduced.

The NHS admitted medical negligence and the compensation settlement saw her receive a £2.3m lump sum, and index-linked payments of up to £200,000-a-year for the rest of her life.

A spokeswoman for the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, the organisation that runs the Cumberland Infirmary, said at the time that all claims were handled by the NHS Litigation Authority and the trust was unable to comment.

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