€122 million paid in damages by Limerick Hospitals Group

Sarah Beasley at University Hospital Limerick.

THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick Hospitals Group (ULHG) has paid €122 million to patients who suffered from medical negligence over the past ten years.

Figures released from the Department of Health through the State Claims Agency show that the group paid €122,509,509 in compensation since 2013, with the highest amount in any year being paid in 2019, when the compensation bill was €30.8 million.

ULHG is responsible for University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Croom Orthopaedic, Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals.

The figures were revealed in response to a parliamentary question from  Aontú leader, Peadar Toibin TD.

The total pay-out for all hospitals across the State since 2013 is more than €1.8billion, with the UHL group’s payments representing the second lowest for any group in the country.

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Limerick Aontú representative Sarah Beasley said the €122 million paid by ULHG was in respect of damages to people who suffered medical negligence or adverse incidents in hospitals across the region between 2013 and 2022.

“This is a significant figure and represents the harrowing experiences for many in the health system. However, what’s particularly concerning is that the annual claim amount is not decreasing, despite significant investment and modernisation of the facilities.

“We do not have the capacity in the six hospitals to cope with the population the area serves. The emergency department is overwhelmed, the UHL trolley count is the worst in the country. Staff are overworked and there are not enough on duty. This is the reason for the large annual compensation bill.

“The 2022 figures show a €1.2 million increase from 2021 and the €92 million paid out since 2018 represents an almost 300 per cent increase from the €32 million paid out in the five preceding years,” Ms Beasley explained.

“Not only does this highlight the devastating consequences of a failing health service in terms of avoidable human suffering, but also the significant cost to the taxpayer.

“There is a correlation between stress levels among overworked staff and the rate of mistakes made, which lead to compensation pay-outs.’’

“Last year, 120,000 people waited on trolleys in emergency departments around the country. UHL had the largest number hovering around 17,000, significantly ahead all other hospitals. We know that delayed diagnosis means delayed treatment and often results in damaged health outcomes.”

“We need urgent investment into the front line to address bed capacity and staffing levels,” she added.

A spokesman for the hospital group said: “It should be noted that safety is an important component of everything that we do in UL Hospitals Group.”

“However, there are times when things go wrong, and, in line with the Incident Management Framework of 2020, we actively encourage that such incidents are identified, reported, and reviewed, so that learnings can be shared in order to improve the quality and safety of our services”.