THE number of successful compensation claims against county hospitals more than tripled in 10 years as payments soared, new figures show.

Earlier this month we reported costs went from £2.3m in 2003/04 to £24.4m in 2012/13, the most recent figures available.

But Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust said it would take too much work to find how many cases these related to.

Now figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the £24.4m was for 169 claims.

This was up from 50 in 2003/04. There were 150 totalling £15.7m in 2010/11 and 161 amounting to £21.7m in 2011/12. All claims includes payouts and solicitors’ fees.

The figures were released by the NHS Litigation Authority, which pays out cash on the trust’s behalf.

A spokesman said: “The number of claims that relate to payments in a year may not be meaningful data, as payments on a claim can span many years.

“For example, of the 169 claims shown against 2012/13, 67 were open with defence costs only and 19 related to claims with periodical payment orders.”

These are “high-value cases and where there is a need for payments to be made at regular intervals over an indefinite period of time,” it said.

Damages and solicitors’ payments can also be spread over different years, they said. Payments are often for lifelong care costs for people brain damaged at birth.