Monday 21 October 2019

Hundreds of women 'excluded' from cancer tribunal

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hundreds of women who developed cervical cancer after going through Cervical-Check screening may be excluded from making a legal claim in the proposed tribunal which is to be established to hear cases for alleged negligence, the Oireachtas Health Committee has heard.

The women, who are outside the original 221 group whose test results were audited, were identified later though the National Cancer Registry.

They were invited to have their test results reviewed by experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) but around 37pc have not done so.

In order to access the tribunal, a woman must have an independent audit or review showing a discordance between the result received before her cancer and that which was assessed after they got the disease.

Those who did not participate in the review are excluded from the tribunal, which will be in private although they can still bring a case through the High Court.

Amendments

Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly and Labour TD Alan Kelly yesterday proposed amendments to have them included when the CervicalCheck Tribunal Bill 2019 came before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

In response, Health Minister Simon Harris said the amendments asked to broaden the tribunal and find a mechanism for the excluded women to participate. He said the RCOG review is now closed and he did not want to delay the establishment of the tribunal which it is hoped will be set up by the autumn.

Mr Donnelly said it was not clear to the women when they declined the review that they would then be outside the tribunal.

Mr Harris said there may be women who do not want to have their slides reviewed.

"Nobody wants to be unfair to a very small number."

He said he will "reflect and engage" further with members of the committee before the proposed legislation goes to the report stage.

The tribunal will not go on forever and patients said they wanted it to be timely and time-limited, he added.

Members of the committee also tabled another amendment to allow a woman cured of cancer at the time of her tribunal hearing to return if the disease comes back.

Irish Independent

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