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Essex NHS Trust maternity failings payouts.


Mid and South Essex NHS Trust paid £103m in compensation in the past 10 years following failings in its maternity department, according to a Freedom of Information request.

The Trust also had the highest number of successful clinical negligence claims of any NHS provider, according to recent data.

A Trust spokesman said the maternity payments related to cases covering a 20-year period.

The obstetric figures, obtained by Channel 4 News, revealed pay-outs and costs totalling £103,097,198 between 2010-11 and 2020-21.

Clinical negligence claims during this period related to 36 mother or baby deaths, 31 babies with brain damage, 24 with cerebral palsy and 27 stillbirths.

Overall, there were almost 300 obstetric claims against the Trust and its three predecessor organisations durting that decade.

Last year the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said there were still concerns about staffing levels within the Trust's maternity units at Basildon University Hospital, Southend University Hospital and Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

The Trust also had the highest number of successful clinical negligence claims of any NHS provider, according to recent data covering all of its departments.

According to data published by NHS Resolution, which handles negligence cases on behalf of the health service, the Trust recorded 179 successful claims against it in 2020-21 relating to all its departments. These resulted in damages valued at £107.7m, the highest in the NHS.

The Trust was created in April 2020 by the merger of  Mid Essex, Southend and Basildon NHS Trusts, and most of the cases originated before then.

Its combined maternity units make it the third biggest in the country, dealing with 12,500 births a year.

Basildon Hospital's maternity unit had previously been rated inadequate due to problems with leadership and staffing.

However, this had improved by  the most recent inspection with the service upgraded to a "requires improvement" rating.

There had also been an increase in "safety incidents", where patient safety was compromised, with 397 reported from May to July 2021, according to the CQC, but staff were praised for how they had managed these incidents, with learning being shared across the wider service.

At the time of the publication of the inspection report, the Trust said it had  recruited an additional 40 midwives.

In November 2020, the BBC reported that the Trust had been handed an urgent safety deadline by the CQC and had conditions imposed on its registration concerning the failings at Basildon.

This followed the death of Gabriela Pintilie, 36, in February 2019 while giving birth to her daughter and "a high volume" of whistle-blowers who had approached the regulator.

An inquest into Gabriela Pintilie’s death concluded there had been "delays, confusion and a lack of leadership" after she lost six litres of blood.

NHS Resolution guidance says the list of compensation pay-outs made by trusts should not be treated as a league table owing to "different levels of risk because of the variations in the nature and complexity of the procedures they perform.

However, Mid and South Essex's figures are still the worst when compared with similar-sized institutions performing the same acute hospital functions.

A Trust spokesman said: "Since our merger, we are one of the largest trusts in England and the figure is for all clinical claims across all of our sites settled in 2020-21.

"The incidents giving rise to these claims could have happened up to two decades before.

"During the last few years we have made improvements to our maternity services, including recruiting 40 newly-qualified midwives, a consultant midwife, practice development midwives and maternity care assistants and securing almost £2m  funding for the further recruitment and development of staff.

"We are pleased that the CQC's latest inspection recognised the work that has taken place and improved our rating."