Claims against maternity units rise
Published 29/09/2015 | 02:30
The number of medical negligence claims brought against maternity services has risen in recent years, new figures reveal.
The claims rose from 117 in 2010 to 130 last year, according to Health Minister Leo Varadkar.
The figures from the State Claims Agency do not show which hospitals or units were involved as this would amount to a "league table" being compiled without context, he told Sinn Féin TD Caoimhgín Ó Caoláin in a parliamentary reply.
Claims arising out of areas such as emergency departments also rose, as well as cases brought alleging errors in gynaecology. Dr Sam Coulter-Smith of the Rotunda Hospital, which will be earmarked for a new building on the campus of Connolly Hospital in today's capital plan, told the Oireachtas Committee on Health last week that 20pc of total medical negligence claims arise from obstetrics and midwifery practice.
But they account for 60pc of payouts - this amounts to about €60m annually, enough to run one of the Dublin maternity hospitals for more than a year, he added.
The State Claims Agency deals with these claims and shares information with individual hospitals. But there is no "national learning" from this hugely valuable information on how to reduce the chances of the errors from happening again, he added.
Maternity services nationally have identified a lack of obstetricians and midwives as adding to difficulties at a time when the birth rate continues to be high.
Ireland had the highest birth rate between 2004-2013, but the third-lowest number of consultant obstetricians per 100,000 women among the 34 OECD countries. The complexity of pregnancy and births is also contributing to difficulties.