Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (719)

Micheál Martin

Question:

719. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health the number of applications received, granted and refused, respectively, for the ex gratia payments of €2,000 to the 221 women in particular to allow them to cover the cost of an independent review of their cervical smear slides which determines whether the readings fall into the limitations of screening or were negligently misread; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13248/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Dr Gabriel Scally's first progress report, published in June 2018, recommended the immediate provision of a modest ex gratia payment to each woman involved and to the next of kin of the deceased. The purpose of this payment, as set out by Dr Scally, was to ensure that women did not encounter any financial obstacles to participating in the Scoping Inquiry and making their voices heard in this way.

Government accepted this recommendation, and I requested that the HSE make available a payment of €2,000 to each of the women, or next of kin of those women who have sadly died. To date, 214 applications for this payment have been received, and the HSE reports that all of these payments have been made.

The Deputy may wish to note that an Independent Clinical Expert Panel Review is being carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), with expertise also sourced through the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology. The purpose of the review is to provide women who participated in the national CervicalCheck screening programme and who developed invasive cervical cancer with independent clinical assurance about the timing of their diagnosis and treatment. Over 1,700 letters have been sent to women, and to the next-of-kin of women who have, sadly, died providing information in relation to consent and a consent form for participation in the review and, to date, 1,075 women have consented to be included in the review, or about 63% of those eligible. The review will provide an individual report to each woman, as well as an aggregated report for the Minister. Approximately half of the relevant slides have now transferred to the review laboratory and the cytology phase of the review is ongoing.