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NI health claims cost £116m

23rd October 2012

According to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General the Department of Health in Northern Ireland has spent £116 million on legal claims relating to negligence in the last five years.

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The report on the safety of health services showed that health workers reported around 83,000 "adverse incidents" - where a patient's health was put in danger - every year for NI's five health trusts.

The report found that workers still under-reported these incidents and it was critical of the fact that there was no regional system in place to deal with the problem.

It also said that the Department of Health might have to spend another £136 million to settle the costs of "active negligence claims".

The £116 million claims bill was divided into £77 million spent on compensation and £39 million for legal bills.

Kieran Donnelly, the head of the Northern Ireland Audit Office, is the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland.

He said in a statement that the health and social care trusts in NI provided "high standards of care".

He added that the health trusts and the Department of Health were responsible for decreasing "adverse incidents that cause, or could have caused unexpected harm to patients and clients".

Michaela Boyle, the chair of the assembly's Public Accounts Committee, said: "The report does identify that the department could look at the introduction of informal dispute resolutions that offer a viable alternative to litigation for families."

"A lot more work needs to be done to ensure that the department looks at an open culture to encourage the reporting of adverse incidents." 

 

 

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