At the High Court the first of a number of High Court legal actions over substandard audiology services provided for children in the west of Ireland has been settled.

13-year-old boy Callan Molloy, from Ballinderreen, Kilcolgan, Co Galway, pursued the compensation action due to his hearing loss not being properly treated for the first eight years of his life. As a result of this the High Court approved a €450,000 compensation settlement.

Callan will have a lifelong impairment because of inadequate treatment for hearing loss at an early age. Previously the Health Service Executive (HSE) has apologised to more than 100 families for failings in audiology services following an audit of a service conducted by one audiologist during the time period from 2011 to 2015.

Representing Callan in court, Barrister Doireann O’Mahony informed the judge that there had been a delay in properly diagnosing Callan’s hearing loss from birth until the age of five. This meant that he was not given a referral for a cochlear implant until he was eight years old. As a consequence his speech and language comprehension will be impaired for his entire life.

Presiding Judge Justice Kevin Cross said there was no scientific way of calculating damages, despite what public opinion might be.

An apology, provided to the court by the HSE’s Community Healthcare West said that it would like to “unreservedly apologise for the standard of audiology care delivered you, which was not to the standard our services would believe was appropriate”. Mr Justice Cross noted the apology by the HSE and said the settlement, reached after mediation, was a satisfactory one.

After this, Callan’s father Ronan Molloy said the apology from the HSE but he and his family “we are still at a loss to understand how a senior audiologist could have failed so badly in their duty of care for our son Callan. For five years his hearing loss was misdiagnosed, he was inadequately aided nor did he get a timely referral for a cochlear implant. This has resulted in a life-long impairment to his speech and language comprehension. We now hope that the HSE will implement in full their findings from the look back report to ensure that the audiology services in Ireland are properly resourced.”

Solicitor Ciaran Tansey said he believed many more than the incidents recorded in the HSE’s review were impacted and said there were many more potential cases.  Mr Tansey added that while 49 families were initially discovered in the first HSE look back, he believed there were many more impacted. Additionally, he said other legal actions will come before the courts in the future.

He said there was “audiological negligence in evidence here on an industrial scale” adding, “this really should not have happened. Children up to age five have increased ability to develop language and understanding and interaction. They are their key years during which the HSE really ought to ensure that proper services were provided and in this instance they simply weren’t.”