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The four main NHS hospital Trusts in Devon paid out more than £17 million in negligence claims last year.
With the average nurse earning around £28,000 that money could be used to fund more than five hundred posts.
Across the UK it's estimated the total amount paid out in 2011 will be between £780 MILLION to £845 MILLION.
A Heart investigation also found that the NHS Litigation Authority have seen claim numbers rise by a quarter in 2010, 11% in 2009 and a further 10% in 2008.
NHS Trusts payments for Negligence in 2009/2010
Fears are growing that government NHS cuts will only make the matters worse with Doctors and nurses already working longer and harder.
The Patients Association say that until the budget situation is resolved the likelihood is more cases will arise as more mistakes are made.
The number of cases could also rise as negligence is now big money for 'No win No fee' lawyers with some individual cases fetching between 7-10 MILLION pounds.
The figures don't show when the litigation proceedings started but only when the Trusts paid out, so there could be more cases already in the system.
For more information: http://www.nhsla.com/home.htm