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Medical Negligence case ongoing for 27 years

1 September, 2010 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin MLA John O’ Dowd has expressed his deep concern at the lengthy delay in resolving some medical negligence cases, with one case ongoing for 27 years, and a total of 55 cases lasting over 15 years. The legal fees for these unresolved cases paid out by various Health bodies for these last 2 years amounts to nearly £2m.

The figure paid out in legal fees for the last 27 years is not ‘available’

Mr O’ Dowd said:

“The figures come about as a result of an Assembly question and raise more questions than answers.

“The human misery of medical negligence is immeasurable. However the time in years to resolve these cases and the public money being paid out in legal fees can and must be measured and urgently curtailed.

“I am aware of one family who has been waiting 16 years for their medical negligence case to be heard. They are seeking compensation for their son whom has been left severely disabled after medical treatment went wrong. The case is continually cancelled just before it reaches court leaving the family in limbo. Meanwhile the lawyers are paid and in one case for this last 27 years legal fees have been continually paid out.

Mr O’ Dowd continued:

“The Minister of Health has only provided legal fees amounts for this last 2 years stating the payouts for the previous years are unavailable I intend to pursue this unacceptable position further.

“The figures for this last 27 years could be frightening, if we extrapolate this last 2 years figure of nearly £2m across the 27 year timeframe we are talking about tens of millions of pounds of public money paid out to legal fees in unresolved cases.

Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said:

“Medical negligence cases by their very nature can be very complex and legally challenging for both parties involved. The timescale of delay and the vast amounts of public monies being paid out strongly point to the need for a change in practice. The system needs independently reviewed to ensure that further distress and anguish is not being caused to claimants and that public money is not be wasted on unnecessary legal delays. ENDS

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