NHS pays £100,000 a day to compensate victims of hospital errors

NHS pays £100,000 a day to compensate people who have lost limbs, eyes or been scarred for life in hospital errors

  • NHS Resolution has paid out £315m in compensation in the last eight years
  • Some 810 people had a limb needlessly amputated because of poor treatment 
  • Patient charity says it is ‘unbelievable’ and the NHS is ‘overstretched’

More than three people a week are suing the NHS after being left permanently disfigured by treatment that went wrong.

Patients have lost limbs, gone blind or been scarred for life by the NHS and compensation claims are costing the health service more than £100,000 a day.

Since 2010 the NHS has paid compensation to 810 people who suffered a needless amputation of a limb.

In addition, 340 people were left blind after their hospital treatment and 269 sued after being left with scars or cosmetic injuries because of medical negligence.

NHS Resolution – the body which deals with compensation claims – has paid out £315 million in the past eight years.

A patient charity has said it is ‘unbelievable’ that some people end up worse off than when they went into hospital and warns the health service is ‘overstretched’, putting patients more at risk of mistakes.

More than 100 people a year have sued the NHS since 2010 because they have needlessly had a limb amputated after receiving sub-standard care while they were in hospital – on average these people are compensated £300,000 each

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The largest single category of people suing the health service is the 810 people who lost an arm or a leg because of poor care while they were in hospital.

These patients were paid an average of nearly £300,000 – costing the NHS £222 million over the eight-year period.

Some 340 people were paid an average of about £250,000, adding up to an £84m bill, after losing their sight because of clinical negligence.

And £30,000 was the average payout for someone suffering a cosmetic disfigurement, costing the NHS £9m.

Joyce Robins, of healthcare charity Patient Concern, said: ‘It is absolutely unbelievable that you go into hospital for care and then you end up suffering more.

‘Much of the problem is down to the system being overstretched. We just don’t seem to have enough people to look after patients.’

An spokesperson for NHS Improvement said: ‘Providing patients with high quality and effective care is a priority for hospitals.

‘The NHS successfully provides safe and compassionate care to hundreds of thousands of people per day, so incidents where this doesn’t happen are thankfully very rare.

‘However, it is vital that when they do, hospitals investigate and take action to improve.’ 


John Halliday lost his leg after doctors took too long to spot an infection

John Halliday 

In 2013, grandfather John Halliday won a £1.5million out-of-court settlement after he lost his leg due to a hospital blunder.

Doctors at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust took 10 days to spot that the 60-year-old had septic arthritis in his ankle which caused a devastating infection, which spread to his lungs, spine and kidneys. 

Eventually Mr Halliday, who was left confined to a wheelchair, needed a leg amputation to limit the spread of the illness around his body. 

Ian Watts 

In 2004, Ian Watts, a butcher from Rochester had to have his leg amputated after what he claimed was a series of medical failures.

Mr Watts was awarded £250,000 in compensation by Medway NHS Foundation Trust. He was initially admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital in July 2004 suffering from an infection in his little toe. 

Mr Watts, a diabetic, claimed the loss of his leg was due to a combination of shoddy nursing practice and the hospital’s failure to properly control his disease.

Michael Stephenson won an undisclosed sum of money after claiming an infection after hip surgery was not treated properly

Michael Stephenson  

In 2015, father-of-three Michael Stephenson won an undisclosed payout after he had to have his entire left leg amputated after suffering an infection following hip surgery. 

Lawyers on behalf of Mr Stephenson claimed the care he received from North Bristol NHS Trust was negligent in that they could have monitored him more closely after the operation to stop the infection spreading.

Colin Fortune  

Colin Fortune, who was already blind in one eye after a sporting accident, received a £2million payout after a hospital failed to properly monitor and treat him for problems in his other eye. 

Mr Fortune was diagnosed with glaucoma in his good eye but a number of appointments to check his condition were cancelled. 

Eventually he had an operation at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in a last-chance attempt to save his sight, but he ended up losing the vision in his remaining eye.

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