Nearly £8bn has been set aside over the next decade to deal with the rising cost of medical negligence cases, government figures show.
The £7.8bn pot will cover compensation claims and legal bills, which have rocketed from £1m a year to more than £500m annually since the mid 1990s.
Up to 7,000 claims are submitted to the NHS Litigation Authority each year. In 2004-05 compensation pay-outs for clinical negligence claims came to £502m.
The government is planning to take steps to try to cut back the rising costs by introducing an NHS Redress Bill.
The legislation, promised in the Queen’s speech, is expected to make it easier to settle claims out-of-court and reduce legal costs in long-running cases.
The Department of Health said the figures were a “worst case” scenario.