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Page last updated at 07:05 GMT, Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Essex 50m NHS legal claims bill

By Matt Precey
BBC Look East


Princess Alexandra Hospital boss, Jane Herbert

In the past two years, more than £50m has been paid out following legal claims against the NHS in Essex.

This figure includes compensation to patients as well as legal costs.

Many of these claims stem from what are called 'Serious Untoward Incidents' (SUI).

This is a term the NHS uses when something goes wrong and can apply to a wide range of events, including when a patient has been harmed.

The BBC has obtained a dossier of such incidents using the Freedom of Information Act, showing the SUI notifications from five local Primary Care Trusts covering the period from January 2009 to May 2010.

SUIs in the East of England

The SUI system enables the health service to draw lessons from what happened and to hopefully avoid a repeat of the incidents in question.

However, BBC research has found that the reporting arrangements for such incidents can vary from trust to trust and until April 2010, it was optional for NHS Trusts to report them to the National Patient Safety Agency.

These incidents also need to be put into context.

They are very rare when compared to the volume of patients cared for by the NHS.

Below is a list of the more notable incidents along with responses from the trusts in question, along with the Freedom of Information (FOI) data.

Additional reporting by Richard Martin and Oliver Rogers.

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