28/06/2013 08:49 BST | Updated 28/08/2013 06:12 BST

NHS Payouts Over The Years

It's historically a British institution many politicians are proud to put claim to, but the NHS is also an area subject to unabashed disagreement and controversy. One of the latest issues to be highlighted is the shocking number of payouts given by NHS over the past ten years.

It has been reported this month that 100-year-old great-grandmother Lydia Spilner died from dehydration in Leicester Royal Infirmary, due to the actions (or perhaps more accurately, inaction) of staff at the NHS hospital. The woman's family received an undisclosed settlement after the hospital admitted responsibility for their "catastrophic error". Lydia's case is just the latest in a decade of avoidable medical mistakes fixed through enormous cash settlements.

2009 saw a settlement of £4 million go to Cristina Malcolm, who suffered a haemorrhage that both her GP and hospital staff failed to detect. Cristina was left with permanent brain damage and is unable to remember things for more than 10 minutes at a time. In 2012, a man was awarded £2.1million plus annual payouts of £205,000 per year after he suffered brain damage as a result of being prescribed the wrong medication. The year before saw a £4.5million payout to a woman bullied out of her job following a series of discrimination attacks.

One of the most shocking NHS blunders is the case of Elaine Silvester, who was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Having been diagnosed with a cyst on her brain, an operation which should have taken two hours took six and left the 49-year-old paralysed down one side, partially blind and in need of 11 further operations. Although it took seven years, the hospital admitted liability and she was awarded a £3.6million settlement in 2006.

Kerstin Parkin was one of the best Latin American dancers in the world with a successful career in choreography ahead of her, but an unfortunate series of NHS blunders while she gave birth left her unable to ever dance again. In fact, Parkin is now confined to a wheelchair and in need of 24-hour care. She was awarded £12.4million in a negligence settlement in 2007.

£5million was awarded to actress Leslie Ash (best known for her role in 'Men Behaving Badly') in 2008 after she contracted the potentially deadly virus MRSA in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The 47-year-old still moves around with the aid of a walking stick, and will be unable to undertake energetic action roles in the future.

In 2004, a mother from Wokingham agreed a £2.5million settlement on the basis that her daughter's cerebral palsy had been caused by hospital negligence. Frimley Park Hospital NHS Trust claimed the reasons for the child's injuries during birth remain unclear, and although they never accepted legal liability, felt a settlement was the fairest option.

2005's most notable case was Nigel Spackman's son Frazer, who at 12 years old successfully battled for and won £3million from Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot, Berkshire. This sum was to compensate for brain damage he suffered at birth, which left him with cerebral palsy, deafness and speech problems. In 2010, a teenage girl was awarded £5.6 million from Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust in a similar case.

With NHS resources so strained, it's mindblowing to think about how many more patients could be helped if mistakes were avoided and this settlement money was instead reinvested in the system.

How do you think the NHS can improve its standard of care to avoid devastating cases like the above?

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