THE amount paid out for clinical compensation claims by Colchester’s hospitals has decreased over the past three years.

According to figures from the NHS Litigation Authority, £4.35million was paid to claimants during 2012/13.

The payouts in 2011/12 totalled just over five million pounds and in 2010/11 the figure came to just over six million pounds.

A trust spokesman said: “Each year we see hundreds of thousands of patients and the vast majority regard the care they receive as excellent or good.

“In a tiny minority of cases we make mistakes. In these circumstances we are open and admit we are at fault, apologise and take steps to minimise the same mistakes happening in the future.

“With childbirth cases, compensation is often paid out many years after the mistake, so some of the compensation payments made in recent years related to mistakes made in the Nineties.

“In some cases it is cheaper to pay out compensation without admitting liability than to spend considerable sums of money on a protracted legal tussle.

“This trust’s key priorities continue to be patient safety and to improve the patient experience.

“We are focused on working to reduce mistakes and, as far as humanly possible, eliminating them altogether.”