MPS: Doctors and patients suffering from slow and expensive Irish litigation process

MPS: Doctors and patients suffering from slow and expensive Irish litigation process

Dr Rob Hendry

Doctors and patients are suffering mental harm as a result of Ireland’s slow and expensive litigation process, the Medical Protection Society (MPS) has said.

A new MPS report states that a clinical negligence claim in Ireland takes an average of 1,462 days to resolve, 14 per cent longer than in South Africa (1,279 days) and 56 per cent longer than in Hong Kong (940 days), the UK (939 days) and Singapore (938 days).

The report, titled The human and financial cost of clinical negligence claims, says patients and doctors in Ireland are dragged through what can be a brutal process, for longer than necessary, and patients are having to wait longer to receive compensation.

Research involving 200 doctors in Ireland who have faced a clinical negligence claim has been published as part of the report.

It shows that 88 per cent of doctors were worried about the length of time the process was taking and 91 per cent were worried about their mental wellbeing during that time, with some saying they needed professional help, experienced suicidal thoughts, or quit medicine as a result of the claim.

Patients, in other recently published research, describe the process as “excruciating” and “adding insult to injury”.

MPS also says the slow litigation process in Ireland, which is largely due to a lack of mechanisms to facilitate early resolution, is resulting in high legal costs. The average legal cost for an Ireland claim managed by MPS is €34,646 which is 26 per cent more expensive than in Singapore (€27,449), and 191 per cent more expensive than in the UK (€11,911).

MPS, which supports and protects over 16,000 healthcare professionals in Ireland, says the case for pre-action protocols which enable claims to be resolved earlier is becoming ever more pressing.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director at MPS, said: “Being involved in a clinical negligence claim can be brutal for both patients and doctors in any country. In Ireland however, this is made much worse by a painfully slow process — longer than in any other country where we have members.”

He added: “The delays to the claims process in Ireland stem from the lack of mechanisms, such as pre-action protocols or case management, which allow for early resolution.

“Pre-action protocols are widely accepted as needed in Ireland and the government has committed to their introduction in both the 2022 and 2023 Justice Plan, however we are still waiting for the necessary regulations to be introduced.

“Our hope is that this report — in showing the human and financial cost of the status quo — provides the final pieces of evidence to help get reform delivered without further delay.”

Share icon
Share this article: