Colchester Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (which covers Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital) has paid out more than £5 million in damages for medical claims against it. Figures published by the East Anglian Daily Times and obtained from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) show that, for the 2011/2012 financial year, a total of £5,044,465 was paid in compensation. This was an increase of nearly £1 million on the previous financial year.

This is consistent with our findings that figures paid out in damages by the NHS continue to increase, raising concerns about lack of improvement in the quality of care provided and repetition of mistakes. In line with our experience, a number of these claims related to the areas of obstetrics, orthopaedic surgery and oncology.

A trust spokesman said the vast majority of patients rate their care as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.

“However, in a tiny minority of cases we do make mistakes. In these circumstances, we are open and admit that we are at fault, apologise and take steps to minimise the same mistakes happening in the future….This trust’s key priorities continue to be patient safety and to improve the patient experience. We are focused on working to reduce mistakes and, as far as humanly possible, eliminating them altogether.”