NHS Fife Pays Out £1.7m

NHS FIFE paid out a record £1.7 million to patients who brought clinical negligence cases against the health board last year.

The sum represents a huge increase from the previous year 2005/06, when just £210,623 was paid out, and brings the total for the past ten years to over £3.4 million.

A national increase in clinical negligence cases has been attributed to a rise in the number of patients pursuing compensation claims, rather than an increase in mistakes by medical staff.

However, Fife has seen a drop in the number of claims, with the £1.7 million representing money paid out in just eight cases.

Compensation is given for errors ranging from incorrect prescribing to botched surgery.

The figures were made available by health minister Nicola Sturgeon as part of an answer to a parliamentary question, and also revealed a national total of £23 million for 2006/07.

She said: “The large increase in 2006-07 is considered to be exceptional and caused by a larger than normal number of high-value settlements – mostly birth related cases which often take several years to settle.

“Based on a population count, proportionally the amount of money paid out in Scotland on clinical negligence claims is far less than that in the rest of the UK.”

NHS Fife confirmed the figure of £1,724,014 for 2006/07 represented payments in respect of eight clinical negligence claims of varying, amounts, including, where appropriate, reimbursement of the claimant’s legal expenses.

A spokesman said: “Overall there has been a reduction in the number of claims against us in 2007.

“Any clinical negligence case is of serious concern to us and we do not consider any level of such claims to be acceptable. All critical incidents are investigated and any lessons learned are then implemented by the clinical staff.

“Negligence claims represent a tiny proportion of the clinical activity dealt with by NHS Fife – for example, in the year 2006/07 there were over 340,000 (provisional figures) inpatient and outpatient attendances throughout our healthcare facilities.”