CervicalCheck programme manager to be called to court in Ruth Morrissey case

Ruth Morrissey

CervicalCheck programme manager John Gleeson has been subpoenaed by Ruth Morrissey's legal team to appear before the High Court and give evidence in her case over the alleged misreading of her smear test slides.

In the High Court today, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was not going to set aside a subpoena for Mr Gleeson and Simon Kelly, a former chairperson of the Quality Assurance Committee of the National Cancer Screening Service.

The judge also ruled that they can be asked questions in relation to governance which pertain only to the 37-year-old mother's claim for exemplary damages in the case.

Limerick woman Ruth Morrissey, who has cervical cancer and at maximum has only two years to live, has sued the HSE and two US laboratories over the alleged misreading of two smear tests she had in 2009 and 2012 under the CervicalCheck screening programme.

Today, the court heard CervicalCheck programme manager John Gleeson can attend the High Court next week but Mr Kelly who is in Lanzarote caring for his wife who is recovering from an accident had expressed his non-availability.

The judge said the HSE and Morrissey sides can agree a date when Mr Kelly can give evidence to the court.

It is understood Dr David Gibbons, a former chair of the Cytology/Histology Group within the Quality Assurance Committee of the National Cancer Screening Service, will also give evidence in the case next week.

CervicalCheck programme manager Mr Gleeson, the court heard, wrote the letter to Ms Morrissey's consultant in 2016 in relation to the audit results on her previous smears of 2009 and 2012 and which revealed the smear tests had been reported incorrectly as negative.

Ms Morrissey was told the audit results in May last year.

It was the seventh day of the action by Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick who have sued the HSE and the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd with offices at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin along with Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.

It is claimed there was an alleged failure to correctly report and diagnose and there was an alleged misinterpretation of her smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012.

A situation it is claimed allegedly developed where Ms Morrissey’s cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

It is further claimed a review of the 2009 and 2012 smears took place in 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Ms Morrissey's treating gynaecologist in 2016, but she was not told until May 2018 of those review results which showed her smears were reported incorrectly.

The Morrisseys further contends that if Ms Morrissey had been told the results of the smear test audits in late 2014 or early 2015, she would have insisted on an MRI and other scans.

The HSE the court has already heard admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but not to her husband. The laboratories deny all claims.

In court today, Patrick Treacy SC asked "why did we have to wait until Ruth Morrissey has cancer before there was any supervision" and why the audit findings were not immediately disclosed.

He said the HSE are denying "primary liability " in the case.

Counsel for the HSE Patrick Hanratty SC told the court Mr Kelly had nothing to do with audits and has since retired from the HSE.

Counsel said the HSE were struggling to meet a brand new case "parachuted into the action."

The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues on Tuesday.

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