MORE than £400,000 has been paid out to patients and staff in negligence claims made against NHS Lothian in the last year.
In one case the health board are believed to have settled a compensation claim for a staff member who fell on an uneven pavement outside the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, with falls on wet floorways and needlestick injuries among the list of complaints.
The Evening News has learnt from a Freedom of Information request that £379,496 was forked out to settle 65 complaints made by patients between July 2016 and June 2017 costing approximately £5,800 per patient.
A further £27,921 has been paid in compensation to 46 staff members at a cost of around £610 per individual.
Union chief Tam Waterson said a lot of the accidents were down to stress and the long hours staff were having to work.
He said: “It is a high figure and it shows the kind of compensation culture we have but what we have constantly seen is money getting paid out for needlestick injuries.
“Unison have tried to campaign for use on introducing safe needles for the staff to use.
“In some cases we have negligent staff throwing needles away or not disposing of them probably but if you use safe needles, ones that can retract as soon as they’ve been used - this negates any risk of injury.
“This should be done with a view to preventing injuries in the first place.”
He added: “For example the two cases I know about are a member of staff who slipped on a wet floor with no sign and one where there are uneven pavements at the Royal Infirmary. We encourage staff to fill out the necessary forms when they believe there are not enough staff on duty. But absolutely it’s due to stress, it’s down to working long hours unpaid and this leads to people getting tired and they make mistakes.”
The claims were made for incidents at 10 hospitals with the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh having the most settled claims. Dr Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Lothian, said: “Across all areas of our work, we strive to provide our patients with safe, high quality care and to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of our staff and patients.
“Therefore we are committed to learning from all such incidents.”
Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs MSP said: “Residents across Lothian will be shocked and angry that mistakes within NHS Lothian have meant that over £400,000 of taxpayers’ money has been paid out in negligence claims in such a short period of time.”