Compensation payouts for thefts and losses bite into NHS budgets

CASH-strapped hospitals have paid more than £273,000 in five years to patients for lost or stolen belongings, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.
Library pictureLibrary picture
Library picture

More than 1,000 compensation claims were submitted to the region’s NHS hospital trusts for missing jewellery, glasses, hearing aids and money.

They led to payouts of £273,260 – equivalent to the annual salaries of approximately 10 nurses.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leeds hospitals paid out almost £12,000 for a Rolex watch that had disappeared.

Almost 3,500 reports of property being lost or stolen were received by hospital trusts in Yorkshire between 2007 and 2012.

Jewellery, glasses, hearing aids, dentures and cash were among items which disappeared while patients were being treated in the region’s hospitals.

The biggest payouts were nearly £12,000 for the Rolex watch in 2009, just under £5,000 for jewellery paid by Sheffield Hospitals and almost £4,000 paid by York hospitals for dentures in the same period.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which is the biggest hospitals trust in Europe, paid the largest amount in Yorkshire.

It settled 204 compensation cases over five years – totalling £57,283.

That included the £11,890 claim for the Rolex, with the trust paying £3,000 of the bill, while the remaining cost was covered by their insurers.

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said they took security seriously but many of their buildings needed to remain open around the clock.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It is a sad fact that criminals do strike in hospitals but our message to them is that we are not an easy target,” he said.

“During the same five-year period we have made a significant investment in our security infrastructure, particularly our network of hundreds of hi-tech cameras linked to an advanced control room – and as a result we have seen a number of people pursued and successfully convicted through the courts.

“We work closely with colleagues in the police service and take a hard line, always prosecuting people who steal from patients and from our hospitals.

“We would urge everyone coming into hospital as a patient or visitor to help our fight by taking sensible precautions to safeguard their own property.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Though Leeds paid out the most in compensation, the highest number of payouts was at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The hospitals trust settled 205 claims in five years, totalling £53,000.

Hospital managers said they took “significant precautions” against theft.

Hotel services director Kevin O’Regan said: “We take every opportunity to remind patients, relatives and staff not to bring valuables or large amounts of cash into the hospitals and if they do, to take precautions to keep them safe.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The trust has improved security considerably over the past five years with the extension of large access control swipe cards, the installation of 600 CCTV cameras which monitor areas across the trust and intruder alarms in high risk or high value areas.

“All thefts are taken seriously and reported to the police to take appropriate action.”

York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust reported the third highest compensation bill – more than £39,000.

A spokeswoman said: “The Trust provides lockers for personal items and always advises patients to avoid bringing cash and valuables with them into hospital.”

She said dentures were often lost by patients and a pilot scheme was being run to log which patients had dentures to try to reduce the losses.