Saturday 21 September 2019

CervicalCheck facing surge of claims from women who developed cancer after smear test all-clear

CervicalCheck facing surge of claims
CervicalCheck facing surge of claims

Eilish O'Regan amd Laura Larkin

CervicalCheck is facing a surge in legal actions from women who developed cervical cancer after wrongly getting a smear test all-clear , it emerged today.

Earlier, Ciaran Breen, head of the State Claims Agency, said there are thirty cases at various stages of litigation including two “potential” legal claims.

The case of Vicky Phelan, the mother of two who has cervical cancer after getting in incorrect smear test result,was settled in the High Court in mid-April.

At that stage there were eleven cases against CervicalCheck but this number has since soared.

And there are five cases for alleged misdiagnosis of breast cancer being taken against BreastCheck, he told the Public Accounts Committee.

Health officials were before the committee for another round of questions after a dispute emerged over claims that a CervicalCheck official told the State Claims Agency in April that all 209 women who developed cancer had received an internal audit confirming their incorrect smear test had been carried out.

The official John Gleeson, programme manager of CervicalCheck told the committee he informed the agency that he “assumed” all the women had been told as their doctors had been given  the audits.

However, Mr Breen insisted it was the understanding of the agency that all the women had been given their audits.

Meanwhile, the acting chief of the HSE John Connaghan said the HSE had met with Dr Gabriel Scally who is conducting a scoping inquiry into the scandal and complained about receiving 4,000 documents  in recent days much of which are difficult to read and unsearchable on a computer.

He said the “HSE has provided to Dr Scally as many of the documents as possible that have been requested by him within the time-scale required. “Documents pertaining to contracting of the laboratory services have been prepared for release but in some instances require legal clearance and in other instances the consent of other parties, prior to their release.

“This was discussed with Dr. Scally at yesterday’s meeting. We have been working intensively with our legal teams in order to release the laboratory contracts without compromising the terms of those contracts.

“We have made a breakthrough in the last number of hours on this matter. Consequently, we hope to be in a position to release the contracts to Dr Scally very shortly.”

“The HSE has already provided the vast majority of documents to Dr Scally’s team in electronic format. Due to certain technical issues (relating to software limitations in some locations) it has not been possible to provide some documents in a searchable format.

“However, a methodology is being agreed with Dr Scally in order to overcome this problem in the future which further enhance and sharpen the focus of the document searches. This involves some more specific technological interventions.”

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