The NHS in Scotland has become burdened with a £50 million pound a year medical negligence compensation bill.
The figures, reported in The Scotsman newspaper have been released under the freedom of information act, and highlight the following. In the financial year 2008-2009, NHS Scotland paid out £31.9 million in compensation. But in the last financial year 2009-2010 that figure had jumped to a substantial £49 million pounds.
Compensation can be paid out by the NHS after mistakes, accidents and negligence leave someone with serious injuries. A recent case in England saw the family of man who died when allowed to leave A & E with a fatal head injury as staff wrongly believed he was drunk receive compensation for their loss.
Large compensation amounts are common in cases of birth injuries. These frequently involve mistakes made by staff during labour resulting in the baby suffering from oxygen deprivation and being born with some degree of brain damage. The children obviously need a great deal of care throughout their life, and compensation payments cover the cost of this care.
It is important to remember that despite the rise in compensation paid out, many cases relate to care received years ago and as such, the rise is not a reflection of falling standards in UK hospitals.