Negligence estimated to cost State €130m in 2012


Cost of claims in public health service could be lowered by State Claims Agency, writes MARTIN WALLIndustry Correspondent

MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE claims in the health service could cost nearly €130 million this year, actuarial estimates drawn up by the Health Service Executive (HSE) have suggested.

In a reply to a written parliamentary question, the HSE’s national director of finance, Liam Woods, said the independent actuarial assessment had projected that €127.5 million would be required to satisfy clinical claims in the public health service this year.

However, he suggested that the costs incurred could be lower as a result of savings generated by the State Claims Agency.

“The State Claims Agency achieved significant savings on claims and related legal costs associated with the management of the Clinical Indemnity Scheme [CIS] in 2011. An independent actuarial assessment projected that €106 million would be required to satisfy CIS claims and related costs in 2011.”

He said the outcome for last year was €81 million. He said this represented a saving by the State Claims Agency of €25 million (31 per cent).

The CIS, established in 2002, manages clinical negligence claims and associated risks involving hospitals and health agencies.

Mr Woods said the agency vigorously pursued all available money recoverable through, for example, contributions from third parties or co-defendants in cases. The agency recovered about €15 million in costs from third parties in 2011 in relation to the CIS, he said. “When cost savings are accounted for, the actual outturn for 2011 was approximately €81 million.”

To date in 2012 the agency has negotiated the recovery of €3 million in costs, making the outcome for the year €33.3 million, he said.

Separately, Mr Woods, in his reply to Dara Calleary of Fianna Fáil, said the agency had negotiated legal cost savings on plaintiffs’ solicitors’ fees of €5.6 million last year.

“The legal costs paid to the solicitors/barristers representing plaintiffs in personal injury actions are higher than the legal costs of defendants’ legal representatives. The level of legal costs paid to plaintiffs’ legal representatives is carefully reviewed and the subject of robust negotiations by the State Claims Agency to achieve appropriate reductions in the legal costs,” he said.

Mr Woods also said the HSE, through the State Claims Agency, was actively involved in a number of initiatives to control and reduce defence legal costs.