Time for a statutory duty of candour

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Sir, – The ongoing inability of the HSE to control costs is extremely concerning given the huge increase in management numbers within that organisation.

One rapidly growing contributor to these costs are costs of medical negligence. A significant element of the responsibility for the scale of compensation claims lies with the HSE itself. By continuing to practise a “deny and delay” approach to medical negligence, both hospitals and the HSE significantly increases the cost to the Irish taxpayer of legal fees and medical expert reports.

The implementation of a statutory duty of candour (with severe consequences for non-compliance) would significantly reduce the length and consequently the costs of legal actions to the Irish taxpayer.

In the US, where mandatory disclosure was introduced, the length of time taken to settle claims dropped by two-thirds, significantly reducing costs and the number of claims.

The recent Scally report has laid bare the deeply flawed nature of the HSE’s much-vaunted “open disclosure” policy.

Aside from the rapidly escalating financial costs to the Irish taxpayer, the human cost of dragging victims through the courts for years is simply inexcusable.

In many cases, these are mothers who are left providing 24-hour care to severely disabled children as a result of negligence in HSE hospitals.

A maternity service should exist to serve mothers and any medical negligence system must ensure the needs of these mothers and their children are prioritised. – Yours, etc,

RUARY MARTIN,

Sandyford,

Dublin 18.

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