More than £4m paid in clinical negligence awards over five years

The Border General Hospital near Melrose in The Scottish Borders. No smoking sign.
The Border General Hospital near Melrose in The Scottish Borders. No smoking sign.

NHS Borders has paid out more than £4.28m in clinical claims over the past five years – with the “vast majority” of it being a single high payment.

The figure comes from an annual report by NHS National Service Scotland into its Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme (CNORIS) – which manages litigation on behalf of NHS Scotland.

The NHS Borders payout is a fraction of others in Scotland, with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde topping the list at £53,511,137 over the five years from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

However, when you look at the cost of payouts per episode of care – which levels the ground between differently-sized NHS boards – that one high-value claim brings NHS Borders to third in the list of Scottish health boards – at £30.50.

The figures also show a large increase in payments from 2012-13 (£44,697) to 2016-17 (375,419.38) – with a total of £4,288,841.79 over the five years.

The year with the highest payout was 2014/15, when NHS Scotland was reimbursed by NHS Borders to the tune of £2,973,464.25.

And the rise over the years is also shown nationally as the total amount paid out each year has risen four-fold in the past decade. In 2006-07, the cost of medical mistakes was £9.4m, compared to £38.3m in 2016-17.

A spokesperson for NHS Borders said that the payments over the past five years also include historical claims from as far back as 1991 – as well as solicitors’ fees.

The spokesperson told The Southern: “The figures quoted as being paid out during this five-year period actually contain claims that date back to 1991 and 1997 as well as significant legal fees.

“Whilst we cannot give specific details, this includes a single high payment which was paid out across 2014/2015, 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 and accounts for the vast majority of the £4.3m.

“The number and subject of liability payments vary from year to year, as do the monetary value of agreed settlement payments. NHS Borders aims to provide good quality care and our top priority is patient safety.

“Similar to all NHS Scotland health boards, we do sometimes receive claims for compensation and these can be upheld if on investigation it seems that a higher quality of care could have been delivered.

“There has been an overall increase in the number of claims across NHS Scotland, and this national trend has also been reflected in NHS Borders.”