Saturday 18 August 2018

PAC chair says more claims need to be settled by mediation

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The chairman of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called for "traumatic" and "major" medical negligence claims to be dealt with through mediation in the wake of the cervical screening scandal.

Seán Fleming said the decision had been taken to settle ongoing cervical cancer claims by these means and that this should happen for other cases too, particularly those involving injury to a child during birth.

He also argued that it would reduce legal costs to the State if such an approach was taken.

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar revealed the Government would seek to settle outstanding cervical cancer claims and pursue the labs for the costs afterwards.

More broadly, there are around 3,000 cases pending against the State over allegations of various types of failure in clinical care.

The State Claims Agency (SCA) represents the health service in medical negligence cases.

The PAC has been examining the cervical screening scandal.

Mr Fleming last night told the Irish Independent that he thought settling "major" cases through mediation should be a broader policy, not just for cervical cancer cases.

He said the mediation route was the right thing to do in those claims, adding: "Why shouldn't this be extended across the board to other major cases that are already working their way through the courts?"

He said many of the cases involved obstetrics care and allegations of medical negligence at the time of birth leading to life-long, serious medical conditions.

He said that in some instances children can be eight or nine years of age before High Court proceedings are over.

Mr Fleming said some cases were "very traumatic" and "impact on the quality of people's lives for the rest of their lives".

A spokesman for the SCA last night said mediation was its "preferred route for cases of this nature as it eliminates the need for court hearings or a contested court action".

Irish Independent

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