Compensation scheme for over 200 women caught up in CervicalCheck controversy agreed by government

Health Minister Simon Harris
By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent

A compensation scheme for 221 women and their families caught up in the CervicalCheck controversy has been agreed by the Government.

Health Minister Simon Harris expects that payments to women and families could be made in the coming weeks. A judge and two officials appointed to oversee the scheme will decide amounts paid.

Campaigner, Vicky Phelan, has previously been paid €25,000 by the State as a contribution towards her final settlement. However, no figures or estimates have been set for the compensation scheme.

Mr Harris secured approval from Cabinet yesterday for the ex-gratia scheme for women affected by the non-disclosure of the Cervical Check audit.

It will be open to women, or their next of kin, in 221 cases identified from the retrospective clinical audit as having problems with their smear test results and where findings were delayed or not disclosed.

The Government also approved the appointment of an independent assessment panel, comprising a retired High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Aindrias Ó’Caoimh, as well as an independent clinician and another official.

A statement said that the amount is to be determined by the independent panel, “taking into account both the fact of, and impact of, the non-disclosure.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Harris also said that it was hoped that payments will be decided and made in a “couple of weeks.”

HSE liaison officers will make contact with women and their families to make them aware of the compensation scheme. However, people will not have to make submissions as the HSE is already aware of their circumstances, the spokeswomen added.

A statement from the Department of Health noted: “The scheme is designed to provide an alternative, non-adversarial and person-centred option for women affected by the CervicalCheck non-disclosure issue. It is anticipated that the Scheme will be up and running in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, Government-backed legislation to stamp out ticket-touting could be delayed and impacted on by a European court case being taken by a Norwegian ticket reseller.

Cabinet discussed the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court case yesterday and on legal advice has decided to make submissions on it.

The case relates to a legal challenge between a Norwegian ticket reseller and the Norwegian government in relation to the resale of tickets for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

A Government spokeswoman said the outcome could have an impact on Dáil private members' legislation which proposes banning the resale of tickets for above face value. Anyone found guilty of selling on tickets in such a way could get a €5,000 fine, under the proposed Bill. The Government has, until now, said it expects the new laws to kick into action before the summer.

Judgements of the EFTA court are not binding on the European Court of Justice. But they can influence its decisions.

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