THE HEALTHCARE trust that runs Westmorland General Hospital has seen its medical negligence bills balloon in the past three years.

Data obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) reveals that University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust’s clinical negligence payout bills have multiplied by more than ten times in the past three years, rising from a quarter of a million in 2016/17 to over £3 million last year.

The number of negligence claims that UHMBT has settled in this time has also trebled, going from 12 in 2016/17 to 35 in the year 2018/19.

The FOI request did not provide data as to the number of clinical negligence claims brought against UHMBT in the past three years that have not been settled.

Commercial law firm Hill Dickinson has earned almost £450,000 for its work advising UHMBT on its negligence cases during this time.

It was recently revealed that the NHS in England faces paying out £4.3bn in legal fees to settle outstanding claims of clinical negligence.

Each year, the health service receives more than 10,000 new claims for compensation.

MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron said: “At a time when the Conservative Government is robbing our local hospitals of money left, right and centre, every penny that our local health bosses spend is hugely important.

“So it’s disappointing to see so much money being thrown away in medical negligence cases.

“The millions spent here should have been spent on improving patient care.”

Lynne Wyre, Acting Executive Chief Nurse for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “When things go wrong, it is important that patients and their families are listened to, that we recognise their concerns, apologise for any suffering caused and act to prevent repeated mistakes.

“It is also right that people receive compensation and financial support when mistakes have had a serious effect on their lives.

“The Trust regularly assess themes and trends arising from the profile of negligence claims to ensure that lessons are learned and improvements to patient care are made.

“Legal claims against NHS Trusts are handled by NHS Resolution. Trusts pay the NHS Resolution an annual contribution calculated to meet the projected expenditure.”