Monday 15 October 2018

Provision of documents and cervical smear slides to Emma Mhic Mhathuna and two others is 'critical and urgent', HSE tells court

Emma Mhic Mhathuna Photo: Domnick Walsh
Emma Mhic Mhathuna Photo: Domnick Walsh

Ray Managh

The HSE today told the High Court it accepted the provision of documentation and cervical smear slides involving three women effected by the cervical check controversy were “critical and urgent.”

Eileen Barrington, senior counsel for the HSE, told Mr Justice McGrath that matters were being looked into “as we speak” and were being treated  with great urgency.

She said the HSE had today Thursday been given only a half hour’s notice of requests for information from The National Maternity Hospital with regard to tests carried out in relation to two women in 2009 and 2010 and the hospital and the HSE were doing their best to address these new issues as quickly as possible.

Pat Treacy, SC, counsel for Emma Mhic Mhathuna and two other women, who by direction of the court cannot be identified, said Ms Mhic Mhathuna, a co plaintiff with her five children, was not insisting on media reporting restrictions in her case.

He said the cases, two of which came before Mr Justice Cross in the High Court last week, arose out of the alleged misreading of cervical tests all involving patients who were terminally ill.  Ms Mhic Mhathuna’s proceedings had been issued today Thursday and applications had been made to the court for early trial dates.

Mr Treacy said the cases involved non-disclosure of cervical check processes and liability was fully at issue in all of them.  The women concerned required production of cervical smear slides today Thursday so that appropriate pathologists and clinicians could study and report on them.

He said negotiations with regards the putting in place of a protocol for the handing over of slides by Medlab Pathology Limited Ireland and a New Jersey laboratory Quest had  to the loss of a vital six days in dealing with the legal proceedings.

Barrister Donal McGuinness, counsel for Medlab, and Emily Egan, SC., counsel for Quest, told the court that their clients were prepared to immediately hand over slides subject to directions of the HSE and the protocol agreed between the HSE and the plaintiffs.

Mr Treacy told the court that matters had now reached a situation where the three women concerned required slides to be made available to them today Thursday.

Ms Barrington said everything possible was being done to meet the demands of the plaintiffs but she was unable to give an exact time when the slides and documentation would be handed over.

Judge McGrath adjourned today’s applications for court orders until tomorrow Friday morning, giving all parties an extra 24 hours in which to advance matters.

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