HOSPITALS in the North-East were forced to pay out more than £300m in the last five years because of medical blunders, new figures show.

Figures from NHS Resolution, formerly known as the NHS Litigation Authority, in England, show that hospital trusts across the region had to pay £302.08m on all medical negligence claims since 2012, as well as historical claims.

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was the worst affected across the region, as it was forced to pay out £53.9m over the period, whilst South Tees Hospitals Trust had to pay out £50.5m.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust had to pay £44.2m, whilst the North Tees and Hartlepool Trust was ordered to pay £39.1m.

The amount the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Trust had to pay was around £2.8m, whilst the North East Ambulance Service had to pay just over £560,000.

The findings show medical negligence claims cost the NHS £6.2bn nationally over the five year period.

More than a third of the total (£2.1bn) went on legal fees, and during the last financial year, the the overall cost rose to a five-year high of £1.6bn.

The highest trust nationally was Barts Health NHS Trust, which had to pay out £123.1m.

A spokesperson for NHS Resolution said incidents in maternity account for 10 per cent of the number of claims they receive each year but around half of the expected cost of the claims.

"Whilst thankfully, these incidents are very rare, each one offers an opportunity for learning in order to prevent the same thing happening again," they said.

"Our recent report made recommendations for action which achieved wide consensus and commitment from those involved in maternity care.

"We are now involved right from the start in order to improve the support for families and the healthcare staff involved in these rare but tragic incidents and to speed up resolution," they added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “Our relentless drive to improve patient safety, including an ambition to halve the rates of neonatal deaths, stillbirths, maternal deaths and brain injuries caused during or shortly after labour by 2025, will help to reduce traumatic and costly safety failings in the NHS and ensure better protection for patients.

“We’re ensuring taxpayers’ money is spent effectively by taking action against law firms creaming off excessive legal costs – but we’re also clear we want to ensure patients continue to access justice at a reasonable cost.”

The Northern Echo contacted South Tees Hospitals and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust , but did not receive a response.