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MPS highlights 20% rise in GP claims at Dublin conference

21 September 2012

  
At their Dublin conference for General Practitioners last week, the Medical Protection Society (MPS) shared its claims experience in Ireland, and looked at the risks associated with general practice and possible mitigations.

The conference – Spotlight on Risk – chaired by Dr Mary Favier, GP Principal and Former Chair of Education at the Irish College of General Practitioners, was attended by around 200 GPs and primary care practitioners.

Following the conference, Melanie Rowles, Head of Claims Management at MPS1said, “MPS has seen the number of GP claims in Ireland increase by 20% and the average size of claims increase by 37% between 2007 and 2011.

"There are several possible reasons for the deteriorating claims environment in Ireland, including rising legal costs, high patient expectations and the increased risks associated with advances in technology and complex care. Experience also tells us that when a country suffers a recession, there can be an increase in claims.

We believe that the rising values in compensation awards have been inflated by high legal costs

"MPS has been involved with many substantial claims against GPs in Ireland, and the expense of settling a claim has reached around €2.5m for the highest value case. We believe that the rising values in compensation awards have been inflated by high legal costs. Less than 20% of the cases MPS manages for members relate to claims of clinical negligence, however they account for approximately 80% of cases costs.

"We see legal fees of three to four times the amount of what the patient receives in compensation – throughout the world, but particularly in Ireland. This is a huge disparity and we are pleased that the Legal Services Regulation Bill will give rise to greater transparency for legal costs.

"In our experience, it is poor communication that lies at the heart of many claims, rather than substandard care. We never forget the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and try to preserve this by encouraging open communication and advising doctors that they do not have to be at fault to say sorry.

We believe that the rising values in compensation awards have been inflated by high legal costs

"MPS’s claims philosophy is the same worldwide; we believe in fair settlement where there has been proven negligence, but we will vigorously defend the defensible to protect the reputations of MPS members."

MPS has more than 12,000 doctors, dentists and health professional members in Ireland, including around 2,500 GP members. The organisation has more than 270,000 members worldwide.

Notes to editors

  1. Melanie Rowles, Head of Claims Management at MPS presented at the conference on Claims Experience in Ireland and How MPS Manages Claims.
  2. The MPS General Practice Conference – Spotlight on Risk – was held on Thursday 13 September at the Irish Management Institute in Dublin, Ireland.
  3. For a summary of presentations please contact Kim Watson on kim.watson@mps.org.uk
  4. Further information about MPS in Ireland.