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Southern Trust pay out more than £8 million as a result of clinical negligence last year

Craigavon Area Hospital
Craigavon Area Hospital

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust paid out more than £8 million as a result of clinical negligence in the 2022/23 financial year, figures have revealed.

The information detailing the Trust’s expenditure of £8,485,027 on 67 clinical negligence cases was presented to members of its board at its meeting on Thursday, June 22.

The board was told in the 2022/23 financial year, the Trust lost £9,941,310 across a number of different categories including cash losses, abandoned claims, administrative write-offs, fruitless payments, store losses and special payments.

A paper presented to the board by Catherine Teggart, the Trust’s director of finance, procurement and estates, details where the money has been lost, including £4,869 in “70 cases of salary overpayment”.

“The loss is made up of 70 cases of salary over payments that have been written off,” it says. “This includes one balance of £1,223 in relation to a now deceased former employee.”

It also explains the Trust has written off £153,000 of bad debts which its debt panel has “concluded is irrecoverable” and £351,000 of expired, damaged and discontinued pharmacy and stores stock.

“Within this total, £209,000 relates to expired stock and is in line with regional KPI,” reads the report.

“During the year, there was a write off of one stock line item totalling £15,000. The item was ordered as a Covid-19 measure in April 2020 and has a short shelf life, no alternative was found. As storage capacity is critical, the pharmacy needs to dispose of the product.”

The Trust also recorded one late payment for which it was charged an additional £78.

The report goes on to explain that special payments, totalling £9.4 million, covers areas such as “compensation payments in respect of clinical negligence, employers and public liability claims” and says “£8.49 million is in respect of clinical negligence settlements and associated costs”.

“These payments do not follow a specific trend and are determined by the progress of the relevant legal case and the timing of the settlement,” explains the report.

Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry

Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry

“Payments in excess of £250,000 were made/are due, in relation to two clinical negligence cases and one employers liability case. Employers liability payments increased on last year with two payments greater than £100,000 and the remaining 15 individually less than £100,000.”

It also notes that £9,000 of ex-gratia payments were made by the Trust in 2022/23 and these were made up of “15 payments made to patients and staff in respect of lost and damaged personal property” with a £5,000 payment relating to “payment in respect of damage to a staff car at a Trust facility”.

With Eileen Mullan, the Trust board’s chair, noting the stock write-off is a “particular bug-bear” of hers, the Trust board approved the statement of losses.

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