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Delayed diagnosis claims form part of the spiralling costs paid out by the NHS in compensation.
According to figures obtained by the Telegraph from NHS Resolution, the amount paid out in compensation for delayed diagnosis, accidental harm or deaths has more than doubled over the last five years.
Medical negligence payments of £327million for 1,406 cases were made in 2013-4, while in 2017-8, the compensation figure was £655million for 1789 cases. This means that the average payment for each individual case has also increased significantly.
The number of patients waiting for treatment for more than 18 weeks has tripled, and nine million hospital appointments are being cancelled every year.
In March 2014 there were 2.91 million people on waiting lists, compared with more than 4.2million people currently.
The chief executive of charity Action against Medical Accidents, Peter Walsh, told The Daily Telegraph that the figures were probably only the tip of the iceberg because patients and families could be unaware that any harm could have been prevented by earlier diagnosis or treatment.
President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Professor Derek Alderson said: “This steep increase in the number of patients awarded damages because of delays in their treatment or misdiagnosis is very concerning.”
“We urgently need a plan to tackle the increasing backlog of patients on the elective waiting list, including a commitment to increase hospital bed capacity. Patients should not be left languishing in pain on lengthening waiting lists. They deserve better.”
Chief executive of the Patients Association, Rachel Power said: “We’ve always known that longer waiting times mean longer periods in pain and discomfort for patients, and ever-increasing risk that the treatment they are waiting for will be less effective because of the delay. These figures show the cost to patients of these delays, in pounds and pence: collapsing waiting time performance is causing harm to patients, in some cases so serious that it is right that they should be compensated for it.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “Millions more people are now being treated within the fast waiting times the NHS provides, with the availability of quick cancer check-ups doubling from one million patients to over two million patients a year over the past decade.”
You can see key NHS performance data by visiting our NHS Performance Tracker and selecting your local NHS trust.
If you think you may have a claim for a delay in diagnosis, contact one of our solicitors for free initial advice.