MILLIONS of pounds in damages were paid out last year following serious mistakes in care at the John Radcliffe’s hospital trust, figures reveal.

Someone can bring a claim against an NHS trust if it is believed they, or a family member, suffered harm or died due to negligent treatment.

Data from NHS Resolution, which handles such cases on behalf of the NHS, reveals 62 clinical negligence claims against Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) were successful in 2019-20.

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A total damages bill of £6.3 million was paid out in relation to these claims over the year, while further legal costs totalled £895,798.

Successful claims against the trust were up 41 per cent compared to the 44 reported in 2018-19, though damages costs are down from £19.3 million.

A spokesperson from the trust, which also runs the Churchill, Nuffield, and Banbury's Horton General Hospital, said: “OUH prides itself on providing safe, compassionate, and effective care to patients.

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"Regrettably, there are occasions when things go wrong or we do not deliver the high standard of care to which we aspire, for which we are very sorry."

It added: “We work closely with NHS Resolution to ensure that any claims, which can be raised many years after the issue occurred, are resolved as quickly as possible for the families involved.

“Learning from incidents is a high priority for us and we are proud of our learning culture at the organisation.”

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for trusts, administered by NHS Resolution, handles all negligence claims against members for incidents which happened after April 1, 1995.

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This means claims could be settled for harm which occurred years before. Trusts pay into the scheme on a pay-as-you-go basis to cover the bill due each year.

In a report, Ian Dilks, chairman of NHS Resolution, said the price of negligence across the NHS remains 'the elephant in the room' despite the overall cost of harm for clinical negligence falling to £8.3bn nationally, down from £9bn in 2018-19.

He said: “We continue to play our part in reducing the cost of claims through actions to improve both patient safety and the way incidents and complaints are handled but, as a National Audit Office report published in 2017 concluded, any strategy to tackle the drivers of cost will need to include legal reform.

“We hope that through reform, a way can be found to significantly reduce the cost to the public purse at no detriment to justice.”

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Overall, NHS Resolution was notified of 97 formal negligence claims against OUH in 2019-20, as well as 33 incidents which could result in a claim. Of those, five were related to care provided during pregnancy and childbirth.

The Medical Defence Union, which provides support and advice for healthcare workers, has warned the number of claims against the NHS could increase following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Michael Devlin, the union’s head of professional standards and liaison, said: “Every example of negligence takes its toll on the patients and families involved, but the compensation being paid out puts enormous pressure on NHS funding, especially at a time when the NHS needs to recover from the pandemic.”