State Claims

Editorial

  |   State Claims Agency
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Welcome to the first edition of our new eZine which will be published, in future, on a biannual basis.

Our first edition includes many topics and articles which, hopefully, will be of interest to our diverse readership across the public and private sectors.

Given the time of year, it is appropriate to look back on the year just passed, 2015, which was a year of consolidation for the Agency during which the number of employees exceeded 100 for the first time since its inception. It was also a year when the National Incident Management System (NIMS) was rolled out right across the public sector, to include multiple health enterprises and hospitals. NIMS, of course, enables all State authorities and health enterprises to comply with their Statutory obligation to report their adverse events to the Agency.

Significantly, the NIMS project received the prestigious accolade of winning the international “Excellence Award Programme” at the Marsh ClearSight Conference held in California. Clients of Marsh ClearSight include many Fortune 500 companies and public bodies worldwide.

The Agency warmly welcomed Dr. Varadkar, Minister for Health, when he visited the Agency in August 2015 and received an update on the NIMS project and met Agency personnel.

On the 20th October 2015, the Agency launched a report entitled “Clinical Incidents and Claims Reports in Maternity and Gynaecology Services”. The Report, which was well received by many media outlets, comprised a five year review of data relative to the years 2010 to 2014.

In early November 2015, the Agency received Judgment from the Court of Appeal in the case of Gill Russell v HSE. The Court held that in cases involving catastrophic injuries, a claim for the cost of future care should be calculated at a Real Rate of Return (RRR) of 1% and all other claims for pecuniary loss at 1.5%. The High Court had previously reduced the RRR from 3% to 1% for the purposes of calculating all future losses in catastrophic injury cases. The outcome of the Court of Appeals’ decision was to grossly increase the levels of special damages to be awarded and/or agreed in catastrophic injury cases. Based on actuarial projections, the Agency estimates that the State’s annual cost of compensation in clinical negligence cases could increase by as much as €100m.

The year ended with the more positive news that the Agency’s Legal Costs Unit received its formal Statutory underpinning to receive and negotiate Bills of Costs on behalf of State authorities arising from litigation generally and not just personal injury litigation. The Legal Costs Unit has achieved considerable success, to date, in reducing Tribunal of Inquiry related Bills of Costs by as much as 50% on an average basis.

Looking ahead into 2016, the Agency hopes that the long-awaited Periodic Payment Order (PPO) legislation will be finally promulgated. The Agency has been a long-term, firm advocate that families of catastrophically injured victims should not have to worry about the investment risk associated with those victims’ awards/payments and the worry associated with the cost of funding their future care. The promulgation of PPO legislation, together with the Statutory underpinning and introduction of pre-action protocols, should mitigate against the more adversarial elements of, and delays associated with, the current Tort system as it applies to clinical negligence cases.

Finally, it will be the intention of the Agency to use this medium to publish relevant National data, gathered through NIMS, which should be of interest to our readers and this data will cover a number of separate topics.

Signature
Ciarán Breen,
Director, State Claims Agency