Tuesday 16 July 2019

CervicalCheck scandal women and next of kin to receive ex-gratia payment of €20k

Emma Mhic Mhathúna
Emma Mhic Mhathúna

Eilish O’Regan and Kevin Doyle

Women and next of kin who were caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal are to receive an ex-gratia payment of €20,000 each.

The scheme is a payment for the non-disclosure of the results of an audit showing the women received wrong smear test results.

Some 221 women went on to develop cervical cancer and a number have since died.

The payment is separate to any compensation they will receive if they bring a legal claim alleging negligence in the reading of their tests.

An independent panel examined the payment the women should receive.

The scheme was approved by the Cabinet and notified to the 221 support group.

Around 90 cases have already been cleared and payment will be issued shortly.

The panel has sought disclosure of records for an additional group of women who have applied for the scheme .

The scheme remains open to women and next of kin who have not yet applied.

Meanwhile, a separate tribunal is to be set up to allow women and next of kin to seek compensation for alleged negligence.

The tribunal will be held in private and the standard of proof will be that of the High Court.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he didn’t fully understand the complexity of the court cases relating to the CervicalCheck scandal when he said all cases could be resolved without going to court.

Last year, Mr Varadkar said it was Government policy that women affected would have their cases settled through mediation and negotiation.

However, the State is now appealing a High Court ruling in the case of terminally ill Ruth Morrissey.

Ms Morrissey (37), a Limerick mother of one who has advanced cervical cancer after getting wrong smear test results was awarded €2.1m by the High Court.

But the state has concerns about the judgment which suggested screening must be carried out with “absolute confidence”.

One of the laboratories Ms Morrissey successfully sued will join the HSE in lodging an appeal.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that he had hoped cases could be settled outside of court but didn’t realise there would be incidences where negligence would be disputed.

However, he said the Government was keen that Ms Morrissey’s settlement would be protected while getting clarification “on some important points of law”.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin suggested the Taoiseach should not have made a promise which could not be kept.

He also said that a new tribunal system for CervicalCheck cases had the potential to be “adversarial”.

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