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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
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Government to establish group to examine the rising cost of health-related legal claims

The Working Group aims to reduce the rising cost of clinical negligence claims in the health system.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH, Stephen Donnelly has received Government approval to establish an Interdepartmental Working Group to examine the rising cost of legal claims related to medical negligence and consider ways to reduce costs.

The Group will examine the rising cost of clinical negligence claims paid to people deemed to have been harmed in the health system, with a particular focus on high value claims of over €‎4 million.

The Group will also identify measures that could be put in place to reduce future costs.

The HSE paid out over €832 million on medical negligence cases between 2014 and 2019, with the cost of cases rising significantly during that time.

Payouts for the first five months of 2019 alone totalled €108 million.

During a four year period payments more than tripled, jumping from €59 million in 2014 to €215 million in 2018. 

The Group will also recommend measures to help patients after stressful or difficult incidents in the healthcare system through disclosure procedures, trauma counselling, and the provision of supports.

Three-quarters of medical negligence claims relate to maternity services, and are largely paid out to those born with cerebral palsy.

The Group will be chaired independently by an expert healthcare professional, Dr Rhona Mahony and will be comprised of membership from across key Government Departments and Agencies.

Mahony is a consultant obstetrician and specialist in fetal medicine at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH), Dublin and former Master of the NMH.

Minister Donnelly stated:

“The most effective way to manage the cost of claims against the HSE is to minimise incidents of avoidable harm. While the Department and the HSE work continuously to monitor and improve patient safety, reduce incidents of harm and to minimise risk, I am keen to take further action on this. “

“The establishment of this Group, chaired by, Dr. Rhona Mahony and comprising membership from across key Government Departments and Agencies, will be essential in identifying measures that could be put in place to improve outcomes for patients and reduce future costs.

“This is an important piece of work for patients and for the whole health service and I look forward to receiving the group’s findings and recommendations in due course”. 

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