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No records, no way of knowing cost to public purse

24 September, 2010 - by John O'Dowd

Department of Health has acknowledged that they have no way of knowing how much public funds have been paid out in legal fees in any medical negligence case over 2 years old.

The Department was responding to a written question from John O’ Dowd MLA whom had sought information on the cost of hundreds of medical negligence cases dating back decades. The departments stated they had only records for this last 2 years which amount to around £2m in legal fees.

Mr O’ Dowd Said:

“ I had first raised this issue in early September and was concerned that I had only received financial figures dating back 2 years.

“It is shocking to learn from the latest department reply that then Health and Social Care trusts did not keep records of legal fees paid out in these ongoing cases. How did did they even attempt to manage their accounts if they had no record system for such payments which could run into tens of millions of pounds over the decades concerned.

“This failing in proper accountancy was first brought to the attention of the Department of Health in 2002 through an Audit Office report which strongly recommended that the Department set up a data base to store such information , it appears from today's announcement that this was never done

Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said;

“I intend bringing this matter once again the to the attention of the Auditor General and ask his office to investigate as to how the matter of medical negligence cases have been handled and if they can track down the amount of public funds which appear to have disappeared into a legal abyss.

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