MILLIONS in damages were paid out last year after serious mistakes were made in care at Basildon and Southend hospitals.

In 2019-2020, Basildon Hospital paid out a total of £16m in relation to 79 claims, and further legal costs totalled £1.4 million.

At Southend Hospital, there was a total bill of £3.3m for 40 claims over the year, while further legal costs totalled £662,744.

Not every claim will begin and finish within one year.

It follows a damning report from the Care Quality Commission which highlighted a catalogue of failings at Basildon Hospital’s maternity unit.

It has since been rated inadequate after serious concerns were raised surrounding leadership and staffing.

The unannounced inspection came after the watchdog had already demanded safety improvements after a string of incidents - including one where mum Gabriela Pintilie bled to death in childbirth.

The 36-year-old, from Grays, lost six litres of blood after giving birth via caesarean section in February 2019.

And the parents of a baby who suffered severe brain damage at the maternity unit have launched a legal case.

Claudia Hillemand, partner at law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, who is representing the parents, said: “The increase in compensation paid out by the trust is not surprising in view of the CQC’s extremely worrying findings.

“These problems are historic. Now that there is a greater awareness of the grave problems within the maternity unit, it would not be surprising if reported cases continue to rise in the years to come.”

In a bid to address the issues, a series of measures were put in place to improve the maternity unit - including better places for staff to rest and boosted numbers.

The solicitor added: “In cases where mothers and babies have suffered serious injury as a result of substandard medical care, compensation is not a windfall.

“Neither can it ever undo or eradicate the avoidable, and often life-changing pain and suffering experienced by victims of medical negligence and their families.”

Diane Sarkar, chief nursing officer for Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, said: “These latest figures reflect that, for the families involved in making claims, many of these cases can take years to progress.

“We work hard to learn from each and every case to make positive changes and ensure that the quality of care at our hospitals continues to improve for our patients.”

Data from NHS Resolution, which handles such cases on behalf of the NHS, revealed 79 clinical negligence claims against Basildon Hospital were successful last year, while 40 clinical negligence claims against Southend Hospital were successful.

The group were notified of 60 formal negligence claims overall against Basildon Hospital in 2019-2020, as well as seven further incidents which could result in a claim. Of those, 12 were related to care provided during pregnancy and childbirth.

NHS Resolution was also notified of 57 formal negligence claims against Southend Hospital during this time - of those, between one and four were related to care during pregnancy and childbirth.