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165 active claims for alleged cervical cancer misreporting with SCA

The State Claims Agency (SCA) was managing 165 active claims in relation to alleged cervical cancer misreporting, as of 19 March last.

The number of claims related to CervicalCheck “has continued to increase through the first quarter of 2020”, according to the SCA.

The total active claims included 25 psychological injury claims from members of the families of the women concerned.

In a Supreme Court judgment on 19 March, the HSE, Quest Diagnostics and Medlab Pathology lost their appeal against a High Court decision in favour of Ms Ruth Morrissey arising from the misreading of her cervical smear tests.

The SCA appeal, on behalf of the HSE, related to the issues of ‘absolute confidence’ and primary and vicarious liability.

The Supreme Court found the HSE had a non-delegable duty in respect of patients accessing CervicalCheck.

The SCA said it welcomed the Supreme Court’s “clarification” of the position in relation to the ‘absolute confidence test’.

“The Supreme Court has confirmed that the High Court judgment of Mr Justice Cross is not to be interpreted as introducing a new test in clinical negligence cases.”

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the CervicalCheck Tribunal, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, has recently asked for observations from interested parties as to how, once established, the tribunal might best operate whilst complying with medical advice and safety precautions as may be in place at any given time.

A person entitled to have a claim heard by the CervicalCheck Tribunal must initiate that claim within nine months of the date of establishment of the tribunal.

However, a claim cannot be made where the limitation period under the Statute of Limitations in respect of initiating those proceedings has expired.

The impact of the Covid-19 emergency as it relates to the periods of limitation for different classes of action under the Statutes of Limitations is under consideration by officials at the Department of Justice and Equality.

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