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Why have we had to pay several "excesses" when the claim concerned only one incident?

All insurers must give a reason if they won't pay a claim. If you've suffered from something like this in the past the insurance application form you completed when you took out the insurance will have asked you to give details for any illnesses you were already suffering from. If you didn't tell them about your pre-existing condition they have every right to refuse to pay for any further treatment. Many policies will specifically exclude cover for certain pre-existing conditions (for example, previous heart troubles) whether you disclosed them or not. There are also policies which will not give you cover for illnesses at all if you are already over a certain age.