EVERYWHERE you look, it can seem like taxpayer money is being tossed down the drain.

Major public sector organisations are under a lot of scrutiny – especially now that belts are so tight.

And so every penny wasted looks like another case of poor management.

The reality, of course, is not quite the same. But new figures revealed today about payouts for negligence at our hospitals highlight the issue very starkly.

Two points jump out. One is that the figure keeps rising and therefore money that could be spent on better care or on more staff is being spent elsewhere.

The other is that the John Radcliffe, in particular, is a hospital that deals with some of the most difficult medical cases in the country.

And so health leaders claim that, in a sense, the risks inherent in being in that position heighten the likelihood that there will be a bill to pay if things go wrong.

Most of us recognise and appreciate the brilliant work done at the hospital and other centres in the county on a daily basis.

But we cannot at the same time fail to ask pertinent questions when serious mistakes are made. Behind the figures revealed are some often very sad stories about lives that have been seriously affected by blunders.

We cannot ignore this.

In short, officials must ensure they reduce the number of patients and families who have to go through such terrible heartbreak.