The total number of clinical negligence claims last year rose by 18%, leaving the NHS with an outstanding bill of £25.6 billion.

Experts say that the figures, recently released by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), do not necessarily indicate the decline of safety in the NHS.

However, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has suggested that improving safety in the health service would help to bring down the number of clinical negligence claims.

The NHSLA says the cost of claims has increased by 13% since last year, rising from £22.7 billion in 2012-13 to £25.6 billion in 2013-14.

Christine Tomkins, chief executive of the Medical Defence Union, said: “The financial burden the NHS faces for all known and future negligence claims is astonishing.

“Errors do happen but thankfully are rare and patients who are negligently harmed must be fairly compensated.”

Clinical negligence claims

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