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New group to study rising cost of medical negligence cases taken against state as figures show increase of €385.7m in 10 years


Dr Rhona Mahony

Dr Rhona Mahony

Dr Rhona Mahony

A new group chaired by Dr Rhona Mahony is to examine the rising cost to the taxpayer of medical negligence cases taken against the state.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to Cabinet outlining his intention to appoint the former master of the National Maternity Hospital to the group which will seek to establish how to reduce the cost of health related-legal cases.

The group was established in response to a more than 500pc rise in cost cases taken against the state since 2010.

Figures from the Department of Health show claims gone up by €385.7m from €75.3m in 2010 to €461m in 2021, with a further 20pc increase projected for last year.

Medical negligence claims make up the vast majority of these payments, with some claims paid in excess of €4m.

Dr Mahony’s group will focus their work on the higher claims and make suggestions on measures that could be taken to reduce costs in future.

“We are already working on measures to reduce costs with a focus on minimising incidents of avoidable harm,” said a Department of Health spokesperson.

Mr Donnelly wants the group to identify measures that could be put in place to reduce costs in the future. The group will be officially established shortly and produce a final report for the minister within nine months of its first meeting.

Separately, Tánaiste Micheál Martin will update Cabinet on plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. This will include a conference in Queen’s University in Belfast over three days in April with a number of speakers.

Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys will tell Cabinet today the state’s Social Insurance Fund (SIF) had a surplus of over €2bn by the end of last year.

The Social Insurance Fund is used to pay for the State Pension, as well as the likes of illness, disability and Jobseeker’s Allowance payments.

Ms Humphreys will tell Cabinet that Jobseeker’s Allowance payments were almost €50m below target due to the fact that the Live Register has reached a record low.

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