Almost half a billion euro has been paid in out-of-court settlements for claims taken against the Health Service Executive (HSE) over the past five years.

The annual total payout involving HSE cases has more than doubled in recent years, figures released by the State Claims Agency (SCA) under Freedom of Information Acts reveal.

The agency refused to release details of individual settlements but said “the majority” are for “clinical care claims which had a subcategory of clinical procedure or birth-specific procedures”.

The SCA said it does not record on its IT system whether a confidentiality agreement has been stitched into an out-of-court settlement.

The work involved in trawling through the individual records for that information would be “unreasonable”, it added.

Ciarán Breen, the agency’s director, recently told an Oireachtas committee there were “perhaps two dozen” medical negligence cases settled over the past 15 years on condition that the patient did not reveal the circumstances involved.

The newly released figures show 806 claims against the HSE last year were settled out of court. The total payout was €139 million. This averages at €172,475 a claim.

In 2013, 462 cases were settled at a cost to the State of €61.5 million, working out at an average settlement of €133,122.

Both the number of cases settled and the total payouts have been rising every year since.

In 2014, 539 cases were settled at a cost of €77.3 million; in 2015 there were 568 cases totalling €77.9 million; and in 2016 some 656 cases amounted to a payout of €92.9 million.

Between 2013 and last year, the State has paid €448,686,570 to settle claims against the HSE out of court.

Tallaght Solicitors are Medical Negligence specialists, so if you have been affected by this case, please visit our Medical Negligence page.

Source: Irish Times