Cost of law suits against the NHS doubles in five years

Delays in diagnosis or treatment lead to rise in number of patients suing hospital trusts

Delays in diagnosis or treatment lead to rise in number of patients suing hospital trusts

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Compensation paid out by the NHS for delays and errors has doubled in five years, it is reported.

Figures published by the Daily Telegraph revealed the NHS in England paid £655 million in damages for treatment delays, failures and misdiagnosis in 2017-18 – up from £327 million in 2013-14.

The number of cases rose from 1,406 in 2013-14 to 1,789 in 2017-18, it added. The newspaper said these include 1,100 patients who experienced a delay or failure in treatment and 679 who were misdiagnosed or experienced delayed diagnosis.

The figures come from NHS Resolution, the health service litigation authority.

Many more people could be affected

The charity Action against Medical Accidents' chief executive Peter Walsh told the Telegraph the problem will be bigger than the figures suggest because many patients and families could be unaware of the harm that might have been prevented by earlier diagnosis or treatment.

He is quoted as saying: 'These figures are extremely worrying and show that patients are suffering and even dying.'

NHS England data show the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for operations or treatment rose from 182,046 to 562,981 in the past five years.

‘Urgent action needed’

Royal College of Surgeons president Derek Alderson said an urgent plan was needed to tackle the backlog of patients.

An NHS spokesperson is reported as saying: 'Incidents like these are thankfully extremely rare. More people are now being treated within the fast waiting times the NHS provides, with the availability of quick cancer check-ups doubling to more than two million patients a year over the past decade.'

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