A compensation bill of £225,000 awarded against serial killer Harold Shipman will almost certainly have to be met by the Medical Defence Union, the not-for-profit organisation that indemnifies doctors in negligence cases.

Shipman this week agreed to pay the compensation after admitting prescribing two and a half times the required amount of a drug to an epileptic patient.

The sum is another upward twist in the spiral of medical negligence payouts, which the MDU says are rising at 15% a year.

In 1998 it paid out £65 million in settlements and legal costs, compared with £43m in 1995.

The MDU does not use reinsurance and receives its income from the subscriptions of doctors, who are required by law to have clinical negligence cover.

Shipman did not attend the hearing. An MDU spokeswoman said it had not at this stage been instructed by Shipman.

She added that the union was talking to the Government about rising litigation.