The Welsh Conservatives have accused the Labour-led Welsh government of neglecting patients. This comes after a Freedom of Information request reveals that more than £265.5m has been paid out because of medical mistakes between 2016 and 2020.
Freedom of Information Request
The Freedom of Information request shows £265,503,877 has been paid out because of medical mistakes, between the financial years 2016 and 2020. This is despite Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board being unable to provide figures for 2019/20 – meaning that the total is likely to be higher.
Swansea Bay University Health Board have paid out the most (£68.7m), with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board close behind (£65.5m).
A total of 3,081 people have made claims during this time.
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB has received the highest number of claims over the last four years, totalling 990; followed by Swansea Bay at 600.
Between 2017/18 and 2018/19 payments for medical negligence claims increased from £8.3m to £24.3m; a 66% increase.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’s payouts tripled from £4.5m to £13.m between 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Partial figures for 2019/20 reveal that £44m has been paid out. Despite only five out of seven health boards providing data.
Some of the top three reasons for paying compensation were diagnosis and treatment errors, delays and inpatient falls.
Andrew RT Davies MS points out that “A total of 3,081 people made a claim – and behind each figure is a person who was not provided with the level of care and support they were entitled to.”
As medical negligence specialists we can vouch for the devastating impact that a medical mistake can have, not only on a patient, but on their family and friends too.
The vast majority of our clients make claims out of necessity, rather than want. They are often left feeling betrayed by the system which is meant to protect them; not to mention, financially burdened as a result of the injuries they sustain.
People don’t just make claims to put right a financial loss though. That’s only part of the puzzle. People are seeing seek answers about what went wrong and some are looking for an apology.
What Can be Done to Stop Neglecting Patients
Where humans are involved, mistakes are inevitable. But when the consequences of a mistake are so significant, it’s crucial that everything that can be done to minimise the risks, is done.
The Welsh Conservatives make no specific proposals on how to improve the situation. However, they do make a plea to the Health Minster to apologise and “get a grip of this situation”.
For years, many have been concerned that the NHS has been grossly underfunded. The recent pandemic has shone a light on a health service that was creaking at the seams.
Many attribute the majority of the problems to a lack of funding. And even if money alone won’t fix everything, there’s a great deal that it can do. Recruiting extra staff and purchasing up-to-date equipment should be seen as a minimum. Not only will extra resources mean patients are treated sooner, and receive better outlooks, but the strain on existing staff will be reduced, and you would expect, in turn, for the number of mistakes to reduce thus reducing the number of people needing to claim compensation.
However, in a climate which sees similar scrutiny placed on NHS England, it’s not clear that the much needed changes are on the way any time soon.