Belfast Telegraph

Women affected by cervical cancer scandal to receive 20,000 euro payments

Cabinet ministers approved the payments for women who were not informed of smear test audit results.

Simon Harris said the tribunal will hear and determine claims arising from the clinical audit (Niall Carson/PA)
Simon Harris said the tribunal will hear and determine claims arising from the clinical audit (Niall Carson/PA)

Women affected by the cervical cancer screening controversy will be eligible to claim a 20,000 euro payment for the non-disclosure of audit results.

Health Minister Simon Harris announced the ex-gratia payment on Tuesday after Cabinet ministers signed off on the details.

The women affected by non-disclosure of the CervicalCheck audit of smear test results will be eligible to participate.

The Department of Health will make payments to those who have applied, and where an independent panel has determined that appropriate disclosure did not take place.

Some 221 women were affected by the controversy, which was brought to light by the case of Vicky Phelan, a mother-of-two who took legal action early last year.

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Vicky Phelan, whose case triggered the cervical smear test controversy (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Co Limerick woman settled  a High Court action for 2.5 million euro after being incorrectly told in 2011 that her smear test had given a negative result for cancer.

While screening tests are not 100% accurate, the fact that the majority of the affected patients were not told of the outcome of their tests prompted a wave of public anger.

Cabinet ministers also approved the establishment of a CervicalCheck Tribunal for the women affected by the controversy.

Mr Harris said the tribunal will hear and determine claims arising from the clinical audit, in particular regarding the reading of smears.

It will be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine and will be held in private.

The moves comes after the Government tasked Mr Justice Charles Meenan with finding ways to avoid women and families affected to the controversy being forced to take legal action.

In October he recommended that a tribunal be established to hear and determine claims.

Mr Harris said: “I am pleased that Government has approved the publication of the Bill and I intend to introduce it in the Dail at second stage next week, with a view to having the legislation in place before the summer recess.”

PA

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