Medical negligence in Dorchester-errors at Dorset County Hospital


Dorchester’s Dorset County Hospital has quite a history of clinical errors. The most recent figures available, released by the NHS itself in April 2014, showed that a total of 76 medical negligence claims against that hospital alone had been settled since 2009. The combined compensation paid out to victims of medical negligence at the hospital over that period was over £6 million.

Of those 76 successful claims, 17 of them involved errors with diagnosis, five with tests or test results and 26 mistakes made during surgery or other treatments or procedures. One sadly involved an infant fatality.

One boy was left in a wheelchair prior to his birth in 2002 and is due a very large payout, which wasn’t included in the £6 million figure released in 2014. When the figures were released, the hospital’s spokesperson was relentless in claiming that the figures were about average for a UK hospital and showed no remorse for the situation. A patient governor later stated that he had not been informed of the payouts and only found out after the Dorset Echo contacted him.


August 2016 saw an update for the Dorchester hospital when the latest Care Quality Commission inspection ratings were published.

Unfortunately it doesn’t make good reading.

Death rates in hospital and up to 30 days after discharge were described as “ worse than expected”

The report went on to find that each of the following basic medical services provided at the hospital “requires recruitment

  • A&E
  • Outpatients
  • Maternity and gynaecology
  • End of life care

And in summarising the whole of the services provided by the hospital, improvement was also required with regard to issues of “safety” and “leadership”

That’s probably why we have always seen a sad and surprisingly high of medical negligence cases in Dorchester.


Unfortunately, the latest Care Quality Commission report seems to largely confirm the findings of another very comprehensive report earlier in the decade.

According to statistics from the highly respected Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2011 [the guide was produced annually by the Dr Foster unit at Imperial College in London – and was the best and most comprehensive independent benchmarking of hospital standards nationwide], the Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester is performing within the expected range for four key performance indicators. However, despite the fact that the results fall into the expected range, they are not as encouraging as the performance achieved by some other hospitals.

For example, for the SHMI result (which measures deaths following hospital treatment), Dorset County Hospital achieved a score of 103. This was by no means the highest, but when you consider that some hospitals were achieving significantly lower scores (such as 78), there is clearly still room for improvement.

The hospital scored 109 on the HSMR indicator, which is a measure of 56 conditions that account for 80% of deaths in hospital. Again, this was within the expected range but other trusts achieved lower scores – for instance, Cambridge University Hospitals scored a lower than expected 75.

One area where it seems Dorset County Hospital definitely needs to improve is in AAA surgery. AAA stands for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, and hospitals that perform the surgery infrequently can have up to 70% higher death rates than those who perform it often. As it carried out less than 35 procedures in 2010/11, the Dr Foster guide recommends that the trust either increases the number it carries out or ceases to perform the operation altogether. This is due to the fact that larger units have better survival rates.

Overall, it seems that while Dorset County Hospital  is by no means the worst performing, there are still areas where it could definitely improve patient care – and that means there is a real risk of medical negligence in Dorchester and that’s where our specialist medical solicitors can help.


If you think that you have been the victim of medical negligence at Dorset County Hospital, call or email our specialist medical negligence solicitors today. Home and hospital visits are available throughout Dorset.

For FREE initial phone advice and a FREE no obligation first appointment with expert Medical Negligence Solicitors you can rely on;

  • Call our team now free on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or
  • Complete the e-mail contact form below