Colchester Hospital pays out £27m in clinical damage claims

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Media captionAlmost 600 people have died at Colchester Hospital in the last two years

A hospital trust under investigation over high death rates has had more than 200 clinical damage claims made against it, figures show.

In the last four years Colchester Hospital NHS trust has paid out £27m to families, following legal action.

Colchester is one of 14 NHS trusts being investigated by Sir Bruce Keogh following the Mid Staffordshire Hospital scandal.

The trust said it was confident about its safety record.

It also stated eight out of ten patients rate the care received as "excellent" or "good".

Inspectors will spend two days at Colchester General and Essex County Hospitals later this summer.

Dr Gordon Coutts, chief executive of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The public can be absolutely reassured that we are putting patients, their safety and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.

Image caption Dr Gordon Coutts said the hospital put patients at the heart of everything it did

"I am confident that our hospitals are safer and delivering better care than ever before, but we are also passionate about making further improvements."

'Horror movie'

Hospital mortality data suggests over the past two years there were as many as 598 more deaths than statistically would be expected.

Over the past decade, the number of unexpected deaths is more than 1,000.

Data from the NHS Litigation Authority revealed how, in the last four years, 219 families have made clinical claims against the trust. That figure is higher than the litigation figures for Basildon Hospital, one of the other hospitals being inspected for its high death rates.

Amanda Kiernan's mother, Sylvia Lindsay, died from cancer at Colchester last year. The family complained that her paralysis was not properly investigated and they had to resort to the internet to find their own specialist for diagnosis.

"They need to take ownership or where they have failed and not be in denial all the time. They just don't seem to be taking any notice of our concerns," she said.

"There was no sense of trying to ascertain what had caused this because this was a very fit lady. It just felt we were in a very surreal situation almost like a horror movie."

The trust has apologised for aspects of care which were "sub-standard" and said it was essential that tangible measures were taken to further improve services for future patients.

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