NI health legislation cost £37m over five years

 

The Northern Ireland Department of Health spent £37.1 million on court cases in the past five years, the Stormont Minister Ms Bairbre de Brun said today.

Breaking down the figures, the Health Minister disclosed: "The amounts paid out in the last five years are as follows: 1996-97: £5.3 million; 1997-98: £1.7 million; 1998-99: £14.7 million; 1999-2000: £5.5 million; 2000-01: £9.9 million.

"Audited figures for the 2001-2002 financial year are not yet available," she added.

"Changes have been introduced to improve clinical and social care governance, particularly in specialities like paediatrics and accident and emergency.

"Steps have been taken to ensure the safety of blood products and the sterilisation of surgical instruments.

"A risk management model for the HPSS has been developed and (health) boards and trusts participate in a risk management forum which aims to promote quality in clinical governance, controls assurance and in health and safety issues. All of these measures will help to reduce the exposure of the HPSS to litigation."

Mr Danny O'Connor (SDLP, East Antrim), who sought the information, was concerned that "money being paid out in litigation could be used for patients services".

Ms de Brun said the Department was anxious to ensure all health service users got a high standard of care regardless of where they lived.