Figures recently provided to Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly show that the State paid out almost €120 million in compensation in 2017 for incidents that occurred in maternity units.

“Since 2007 we have seen a ten-fold increase in claims and a thirty fold increase in payments.

“Given the many high profile incidents in maternity units in this time it is hardly surprising to see such a significant increase. Nonetheless it does bring home the price of error in our health services and underscores the need for standards and vigilance.

“The total awarded in 2017 at €120m is a very significant outlay. Bear in mind that the HSE Service Plan for last year committed €81.3m for the expansion of existing services or the development of new services.

“In 2017, the cost of compensation errors and mistakes in our maternity units alone was 50% greater than the total funding being made available for increasing health service provision in this State.

“We need to understand why there has been such an increase in both claims made and compensation paid out. Is it because that more mistakes are being made in our maternity hospitals, or is it because there is more open communication and disclosure of errors leading to more cases being taken? I do also feel that a review of medico-legal practices in this State needs to be undertaken as a priority.

“Minister Harris needs to get on top of these costs, and more importantly, provide the resources or training needed to cut them down. Remember, behind every compensation case is a family and a child that have had their world turned upside down,” concluded Donnelly.