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Emergency Services Paying Out Millions In Compensation

Thursday 14th August 2014

LBC can exclusively reveal that emergency services across the UK have spent more than £10 million in compensation to the public and staff in the last year.

Emergency services

Figures obtained via the Freedom of Information Act show that across the Police, Ambulance and Fire Service there were nearly 5,000 claims for things like wrongful arrest, clinical negligence, personal injury and vehicle damage.

"Every penny that's spent on compensation is a penny that can't be spent on emergency services and doing the thing they're really supposed to be doing," Andy Silvester from the Taxpayers Alliance told LBC.

"It suggests either a culture of carelessness at too many of these emergency services, or that they are simply paying out spurious claims because challenging them is almost too difficult and not worth the time."

The Welsh Ambulance Service came top of the table, having paid out more than £2.48 million pounds.

A spokesperson for the service said that more than half of the money paid out is down to one individual claim, which originates from a decade ago. The £1,617,002.27 pay out was for medical negligence.

“In 2012-13, the total paid out in compensation was £449,000 while in 2011-12 it was £403,000, which is a reflection of what the Trust might typically pay out in a year," the spokesperson added.

“We work as hard as possible to provide first class healthcare and services to the people of Wales, but recognise that on occasion things go wrong.

“We view the Putting Things Right process as a valuable source of feedback which informs our learning and service improvement based on the experience of patients.

“The public can be assured that the Trust is firmly committed to delivering the improvement aims of our Working Together for Success modernisation programme, and the safety and welfare of our service users and staff is our paramount concern."

The Welsh Ambulance Service was closely followed by London's Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police has told LBC:

"We have a responsibility for public funds and we successfully defend a significant number of claims. Out of court settlements with no admission of liability will also be made in some cases to avoid costly litigation. However, where we believe mistakes have been made the MPS will accept liability and pay appropriate compensation."

The average payout across the services is £2,242.08.

Suffolk Police paid £17.99 to a staff member who damaged a shoe on the "sharp edge of a door" and Gwent Police, who paid £23,450 for "loss of property".

1. Welsh Ambulance Service £2,478,183.17 177
2. Met Police £2,442,984.71 2395
3. London Ambulance Service £2,206,262.08 209
4. West Midlands Ambulance Service £412,351.50 282
5. Norfolk Police £394,928.73 48
6. Cleveland Police £337,691.00 53
7. Merseyside Police £333,000.00 74
8. Essex Police £298,550.00 64
9. Surrey Police £224,299.82 15
10. Gloucestershire Police £206,715.70 9