Northern Ireland clinical negligence cases cost up to £21.9m per year

Northern Ireland clinical negligence cases cost up to £21.9m per year

Negligence cases in NI cost up to £21.9m a year including legal fees, DoH reveals

Belfast Telegraph

Around £60,000 a day is paid out due to medical negligence in Northern Ireland, figures show.

The Department of Health reported that a total of £21.9m was spent last year covering the cost of negligence cases.

This figure includes £6.7m used for legal costs – a third of the total.

Cases concerning obstetrics, including to do with pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, accounted for three fifths of the amount paid out.

Clinical negligence is defined as: “A breach of duty of care by members of the health and social care professions employed by HSC organisations or by others consequent on decisions or judgments made by members of those professions acting in the course of their employment, and which are admitted as negligent by the employer or determined as such through the legal process”

The statistics were collected from Health & Social Care (HSC) Trusts, Agencies and Legacy Health and Social Services (HSS) Boards on all clinical and social care negligence cases in Northern Ireland open during the year ending March 31 2021.

Of the £21.9m paid on all clinical and social care negligence cases in 2020/21, over two thirds (£15.2m) was paid in damages, £4.2m was paid in plaintiff costs and £2.5m in defence costs.

Almost half of all cases open that year related to four specialties – obstetrics (628), accident & emergency (577), neurology (333) and ‘general surgery’ (328).

A total of £152.4 million has been paid to date on the 3,872 clinical and social care negligence cases which were open at any stage during 2020/21.

Over three quarters of that had been paid in damages and £33.2m was paid out in legal costs.

Over three fifths of the amount paid out on clinical and social care negligence cases open at any stage during 2020/21 related to obstetrics (£95.9m), of which, four fifths (£77.3m) had been paid in damages.

During the last five years, the amount paid on clinical and social care negligence cases decreased by £6.7m from the previous figure of £28.5m in 2016 and 2017.

The amount of cases open at any stage throughout 2020/21, however, was 225 more than that in 2016/17.

The length of time the cases remained open increased as well, for an average of 2.9 years.

This was slightly longer than in 2016/17 where cases stayed open for 2.6 years.

According to figures released by the Department of Health for 2019/20, £32.8m was paid out for blunders relating to medical and clinical care.

Of the £32.8m paid out in 2019/20, over two thirds was paid in damages. The remaining amount went towards legal costs.