Sheffield hospitals’ £8m baby claims bill

Sheffield's Jessop maternity wing
Sheffield's Jessop maternity wing
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Clinical negligence claims launched over maternity care blunders in Sheffield cost more than £8 million last year, NHS figures have revealed.

The statistics were highlighted in an official report by the National Audit Office, which said that on average nearly £700 is spent on clinical negligence insurance cover for every live birth in England.

Last year there were 12 claims made against the trust linked to botched maternity care.

In 2012/13, claims over obstetrics treatment at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the city’s Jessop Wing maternity hospital - cost £5.2m, while £3.3m was paid in compensation and legal expenses through a scheme dealing with claims dating from before 1995.

But Chris Morley, deputy chief nurse at the trust, said the cost of its clinical negligence cover had fallen by nearly half over the past year.

Nationwide, obstetrics-related claims have risen by 80 per cent in the past five years, the audit report said. The cost of cover last year was £482m, and the average payment per claim was £277,000.

The health service in England paid out more than £3bn in compensation claims linked to maternity care between 2000 and 2010, according to the NHS Litigation Authority, which published the Sheffield figures.

Mr Morley said: “Over the last 12 months the cost of our clinical negligence insurance has decreased by almost a half. The reason for this is because the cost is now based on the number of successful claims made, staffing ratios and number of births.

“This is a reflection of the hard work of our maternity teams who have a continuous focus on delivering safe and high quality care.”

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “The NHS remains one of the safest places in the world to have a baby, but on rare occasions care falls below acceptable standards and unsafe care should never be tolerated.

“This report shows most women have good outcomes and positive experiences of maternity care.”