CervicalCheck cost to soar as tribunal open to more women
The final compensation bill for the CervicalCheck controversy could potentially spiral after it emerged yesterday that another 1,776 women whose slides are currently being reviewed are to be included if they want to take a case.
Health Minister Simon Harris announced that the Cabinet gave the go-ahead yesterday to the heads of the bill to set up a tribunal of compensation where women who developed cervical cancer after getting an incorrect result can bring an action for damages.
It was originally believed this tribunal would be confined to the group of 221 women caught up in last year's controversy.
However, Mr Harris said it will also be open to any of the 1,776 women who developed cervical cancer whose smear tests are currently being examined in an independent review by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
This independent review started earlier this year and will report in the summer.
Women will be told if the smear test result was "discordant" with that found by the review team but it will not say if there was negligence involved.
A woman from this group who is found to have a wrong test result would be entitled to make a claim to the tribunal.
However, in all cases the women will have to prove negligence in order to secure compensation.
The tribunal will be heard in private and is seen as an alternative to going to the High Court.
But women will still be able to go to court if that is the route they want to take.
Mr Harris said that as well as the proposed tribunal, work is advanced on an ex-gratia scheme for women affected by the non-disclosure of the CervicalCheck audit and this will be open for applications shortly.
This is to provide a payment to the 221 group for the failure to disclose to them a CervicalCheck audit showing they had received a wrong smear test result.
Women or bereaved families are to be written to shortly and invited to apply for the ex-gratia payment, which will be based on various criteria.
It is expected to take into account the impact the non-disclosure had on them.