Compensation claims taken against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and child protection agency Tusla accounted for €1.9 billion of the €2.2 billion total paid out by the State in 2016 according to a report recently released by the State Claims Agency. This is an increase of 22 per cent.
The agency reported that the complete cost, at the end of 2016, of outstanding compensation claims against the State had risen 22 per cent to €2.2 billion.
Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) stated that “the number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”. The State Claims Agency manages legal actions taken against the State. The body’s most recent set of accounts also shows that the number and cost of legal actions involving public bodies have been rising steadily in recent years.
Compensation awards and legal costs past out by the agency paid out in 2016 amounted to €256.2 million, roughly 20 per cent up on the 2015 figures. Additionally the figures released show an increase in the number of legal actions pending against the State of almost 3,000 from the 2011 figures. In 2011 there were 6,000 actions taken, compared to 8,900 in 2016.
Claims against the Department of Health accounted for €27 million. Cases against the Department of Education had an estimated bill of €50 million. Other government departments and bodies were responsible for compensation cases worth €27 million.
The State Claims Agency was established by the Irish Government in 2001 as a reaction to the surge in numbers of compensation claims being taken against the State. The body is part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), the body that borrows funds for the Government and helps manage the State’s finances.
The body mainly deals with compensation claims involving personal injury, clinical negligence and property damage taken against State bodies.