Fife’s £11m compensation bill over last five years

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NHS Fife has paid out more than £11 million in medical negligence payments over the past five years.

Recently released figures from the BBC’s data unit have revealed that the total figure from 2012-2017 was £11,240,197.21 – a rise of almost 200 per cent over the period.

However NHS Fife bosses moved quickly to allay fears that there had been a dramatic increase in compensation payments, saying that many of the cases were historic and had taken years to either be raised or dealt with.

Fife ranked seventh in the total paid out for medical negilgence in a table of 15 Scottish health boards, with the highest figure paid out by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, at just over £53,500,000 and the lowest NHS Orkney which shelled out just £66,279.58.

The figures reflect the number of patients dealt with in the health board areas they cover.

They also show that payments for maternity care failings have reduced over the past ten years.

Fife’s figure for the year 2016-17 was £4,451,070.29, the largest annual figure of the five year period and a huge increase on the £700,273.00 of the previous 12 months.

According to the BBC shared statistics, if the data is looked at in the context of the size of hospital trusts, the mistakes for NHS Fife cost the sixth highest in relation to its payouts bill for its size.

It shows that NHS Fife paid out £27.44 per “episode of care” dealing with 409,698 episodes over five years, 86,360 of them last year.

The highest cost in payouts was NHS Tayside at £36.39 per episode of care, and Orkney was again the lowest cost at £2.65.

Carol Potter, NHS Fife’s director of finance, said: “The overwhelming majority of those who require healthcare in Fife go on to receive treatment of the highest standard.

“On the very rare occasions where concerns are raised about a patient’s care, they may choose to seek legal redress.

“Even relatively straightforward claims for compensation can take many months to be settled, with more complex claims often taking many years.

“Furthermore, there can often be a delay of months, or even years, between the time of the alleged incident and the lodging of the eventual claim.

“Fluctuations in the sums paid from year to year, therefore, relate to the length of time it takes to settle individual cases rather than there being a cluster of claims at any given time.”