The hospital trust which runs the Conquest Hospital came third in a national league table of NHS bodies who have made the most compensation payments after patients contracted life-threatening superbug infections while in their care.
Data received through a Freedom of Information Act from the NHA Litigation Authority reveals the trusts where patients have won the most settlements after saying the NHS was responsible for them picking up an infection like MRSA or C. Diff.
In the last ten years, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals in Eastbourne and Hastings, has seen 13 payouts totalling £238,069 to patients and their families who sued after picking up a hospital superbug.
Many of the payouts linked to the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust are believed to be connected to an outbreak of C. Diff at the Eastbourne District General Hospital in 2009 that was linked to a total of 13 patients dying.
Three were said to have died as a direct result of the infection while in ten other cases, the infection was considered a contributory factor.
At the time, the trust spent £100,000 to purchase a number of specialist hydrogen peroxide vaporisation system units to fight the spread of the highly contagious infection.
In total across the last ten years, there have been 484 compensation payouts to patients who brought legal action against the NHS for this – with damages of £36.4 million. This, added with lawyers’ fees, comes to a cost of £60.8 million.
Alice Webster, director of nursing at East Sussex Healthcare, said: “Minimising the risk of infection is a priority for the trust.
“These cases relate to a well-published C. Diff outbreak in 2009 when a group legal action was taken against the trust.
“Since that time we have introduced a number of infection control measures which have been successful in reducing infections.
“Since 2008/9, the number of C. Diff cases has reduced by more than three quarters and MRSA Bacteraemia cases reduced by 95 per cent, with just one case since September 2015.”
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