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The health trust that covers Havering paid out almost £20m in clinical negligence compensation in the financial year 2011/12.

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The payouts - which include £14.95m in damages and £4.75m in legal costs – show an almost £5m rise in one year for the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Health Trust (BHRUT).

Across the country, trusts saw payments which are actually made on their behalf through the NHS Litigation Authority, rise to a record £1.2bn.

BHRUT paid a contribution of £11m to the body last year – based on the fact that it both covers a large population and has had number of previous payouts.

It was among the most sued hospital trusts in London in the last financial year, and although the cost went up, the number of claims dropped by 11 on the previous financial year.

Solicitor Sarah Harman, who has launched several cases over maternity treatment at Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford, which is run by BHRUT, said: “I am not surprised that payouts for poor care at Queen’s have gone up in recent years.

She said she is still dealing with claims against the trust and added: “This is so sad for families affected.

“The expense to the NHS of all these payouts could have been much reduced had mothers been given a reasonable standard of care.”

The latest CQC report about the trust said its maternity services are improving.

A spokesman for BHRUT said: “The number of claims against the trust is directly related to the size of the organisation.

“This trust is one of the largest and busiest in the NHS, and also offers regional services such as cancer and neurosurgery.

“This, coupled with having one of the largest maternity units in England, can lead to high-cost settlements.

“This is simply in proportion to the number of people we treat and has no reflection on levels of patient care.

He added: “We will continue to work hard to ensure that patients receive the best possible standards of care at our hospitals.”

The Medical Defence Union has called for a change in the law to limit the payouts the NHS makes in compensation.

Its chief executive, Dr Christine Tomkins, said: “While patients should be compensated quickly and fairly when they have been negligently harmed, the massive cost to society cannot be overlooked.”

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