INCREASED CLAIMS AGAINST PRIVATE HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS – the cost to them and the residual cost to the public purse
The Health Service Executive has indicated that it expects an over-run on costs incurred by the State Claims Agency for 2014 in respect of negligence claims against the public health service. As a result of this potential spill over, attention has turned to the future claims environment and the knock on effect that increased claims in the private medical sector may ultimately have on public expenditure.
As a priority, the Medical Protection Society (MPS) has recommended that the Government introduce, as part of a set of vital measures, a new Bill that clearly defines the tort of clinical negligence to slow down the claims environment in Ireland which is fast deteriorating.
The claims environment has been worsening for a number of years now and, in particular, over the past two years.
When the MPS considered the level of claims made against private hospital consultants, the actuarial estimates of the cost of indemnity for claims per member had increased by an excess of 90% over the past two years.
The Society felt there were other simple measures that the Government could put in place, such as the full implementation of the Law Reform Commission’s 2008 proposals on the limiting general damages. As a society that indemnifies the medical profession, the MPS said it was prepared and to play an important role trialing procedural reform, but that the support of the Government was crucial to making that happen.
If pre-action protocols are not put in place, the MPS has a real concern that where doctors find the cost of practising in the Irish private sector unsustainable, more of them may decide to work abroad.
“The impact this may have on Irish society is likely to be damaging,” concludes the Society’s new report, ‘Challenging the Cost of Clinical Negligence: The Case for Reform’, released this week.
“If services are not offered in the private sector they will inevitably be sought in the public sector, where liability for any claims for clinical negligence would lie with the State Claims Agency (SCA) in their entirety, impacting on the public purse.”
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