Nearly half of the medical payouts by hospitals in the southwest over the last two decades came in the last three years, new figures show.
Since 2003, over €638m has been paid out on over 1,300 claims relating to acute hospitals in the southwest, of which €305m was paid out between 2019 and 2021.
In February, therevealed that medical negligence and hospital accident payouts have cost the State more than €2.4bn since 2003. Of that figure, the South/South West region — which includes Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, University Hospital Kerry, and South Tipperary General Hospital — paid out the most of any of the hospital groups.
New figures issued to Sinn Féin TD for Cork North-Central Thomas Gould shows the rapid increase in the rate of payouts in the region, with €305m of the €638m paid between 2019 and 2021.
Mr Gould had asked about the payouts specifically at Cork University Hospital but was told by the State Claims Agency that such information is not made public.
"The SCA does not release claims’ data into the public domain at individual hospital level because to do so would effectively provide a league table of hospitals and could cause the public to draw false and unwarranted assumptions in relation to the clinical performance of an individual hospital in the absence of further relevant contextual information," it said.
However, Mr Gould said that it was "mind-boggling" that the data was not made public.
"There needs to be an investigation into what's happening here. Where's the transparency, accountability and openness? Nobody seems to have a handle on this. Is it going to be worse next year?"
Mr Gould said that getting a handle on spending could improve services elsewhere.
"There's parents paying €1,400 for assessments because there's no resources there but we're spending €100m a year.
"People are waiting years but this money could be used to cut waiting lists."
Mr Gould said that he had no issue with people taking cases if the care they've received is lacking, but said that lessons had to be learnt when cases were successful.
"What are the reasons behind this spend? I have no issue with people taking cases but are we improving and ensuring this doesn't happen again?
"These figures show a spike in the last three years. The HSE doesn't have a handle on this. It's mind-boggling."
The €2.4bn in payouts does not include compensation payments related to claims from inquests.
The figure also does not include cases still to be settled by the State Claims Agency. However, the total does include fees for damages (special and general), as well as legal and expert costs.
Thealso revealed that while €1.7bn of the overall figure was paid in damages, nearly €640m was paid out in legal and expert costs. The South/Southwest's overall cost included €139m in legal fees and over €9m in expert costs.
A spokesperson for the hospital group did not respond to requests for comment.