Hospitals in the West Midlands have had to fork out £45 million in just one year on clinical negligence claims.
The Heart of England NHS Trust, which runs Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, had the biggest bill in the region – £13.9 million for 2013-14.
The Trust also paid more for lawyers than any other group in England, coughing up £1.5 million in legal fees.
Payouts include patients of surgeon Ian Paterson, who carried out unlicensed and unnecessary operations on hundreds of women at Solihull Hospital.
It is understood that one former breast cancer patient received a payout of £270,000 alone, with at least 157 others already settled.
In another case, Hayley Sanders received a five-figure sum from the Trust in October 2013.
The young mum needed an urgent hysterectomy after Heartlands Hospital discharged her with an untreated infection after the birth of her son, Jayden, in December 2009 – when she was just 19 years old.
Hospital staff performed multiple internal examinations but failed to act on four high temperature readings following complications on December 27, 2009.
Hayley was discharged, but just two days later she was rushed back to hospital and spent days in the high dependency unit.
She fell into a coma as her body was taken over by a bacterial infection. Doctors were left with no choice but to perform a complete hysterectomy to save her life.
The shocking figures, published by the NHS Litigation Authority, show the Trust had to spend another £3.6 million paying claimants’ legal costs and a further £8.8 million paying damages in cases it lost.
The costs are slightly less than the previous year, where the bill was £14.3 million which included payouts to lawyers, claimants, and paying claimant’s legal fees. But the Trust insisted that the figures did not reflect the quality of patient care at its hospitals, and the huge sum was largely due to claims against ‘rogue surgeon’ Ian Paterson.
Andrew Catto, deputy chief executive and executive medical director, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest Trusts in the region, treating over 1.2 million patients every year.
“Whilst we regret the significant impact that the process of taking legal action can have on patients, the majority of these litigation costs account for the pro-active approach that the Trust has taken to compensate the NHS patients of Mr Ian Paterson.
“This includes increased legal costs for the Trust in defending the claims concerning private sector treatment performed by Mr Paterson.
“We continue to be committed to providing the highest standards of patient care and are taking steps to make our care safer and thereby reduce the cost of medical litigation.”
The Dudley Group of Hospitals trust, which runs Russells Hall Hospital, had the second largest legal bill at £5.9 million – but the Trust insisted that the payouts were from cases as far back as 1996.