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The astronomical sums the Welsh NHS has paid out in compensation

The astronomical sums the Welsh NHS has paid out in compensation

One Welsh health board was responsible for more than a third of the overall total

Wales online

The Welsh NHS was forced to pay out more than £66m to settle clinical negligence claims in the last financial year, it has been revealed. A freedom of information request made by the Welsh Conservatives found 730 claims were made in 2021-22 and 462 of them were settled at a cost of £66,376,493.57.

This was an increase on the £64,099,571.75 paid out in 2020-21 and £41,050,262.19 in 2019-20. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales was responsible for more than a third of the overall total (£23,489,528) in 2020-21 after settling 231 claims.

They were followed by Swansea Bay UHB which shelled out £17,679,484 on 40 claims and Cardiff and Vale UHB which paid out £12,857,643 on 95 claims. Meanwhile there remain 2,237 claims which remain outstanding across all seven health boards.

Delays in diagnosis, failures to identify infection, and treatment errors are among the most common successful claims made against the health boards. Here is a rundown of the statistics for the past three financial years:

Welsh health boards pass these types of claims to legal experts at an organisation called NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership to defend. The first £25,000 of a claim is paid by the health boards with the remainder covered by a Wales-wide fund – the Welsh Risk Pool – which was established to reimburse losses to health boards.

Commenting on the figures Welsh Conservative and shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: "This country highly respects the work of our health service but we have to confront the ever-escalating amounts of public money that is being spent on compensating those poor patients who have been wronged by clinical negligence. That £171m (over three financial years) could have been better served on nearly new 7,000 doctors and nurses – something we sorely need as Labour preside over a record-long backlog where 62,000 people wait over two years for treatment. I would like to see the health minister come forward with a plan to decrease clinical negligence in the health service, the number of claims made against it, and the amount being spent on compensation in the coming weeks."

In response a Welsh Government spokesman said: "Every year hundreds of thousands of people receive high-quality, safe healthcare in Wales. Clinical negligence pay outs represent a small proportion of the number of people who receive treatment from NHS Wales.

"Everyone working in the NHS and everyone receiving care is encouraged to report any incidents so they can be investigated openly and lessons learned. From April 1, 2023, we intend to bring into force the duty of candour in NHS Wales, the aim of which is to promote a culture of openness and transparency. The focus will be on learning and improvement so people who have unfortunately suffered harm can be reassured that learning identified will prevent such harm happening again."

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