Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Questions (373)

Gerry Adams


373. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the status of the 2009 report of the vaccine damage steering group; when the recommendations of the report will be enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46444/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The report of the Vaccine Damage Steering Group was published in September 2009 and was considered by my Department at that time.

The Programme for a Partnership Government (2016) includes a commitment to “put in place a scheme, on a no-fault basis, that will respond to the needs of people with disability arising from vaccination”. The policy objectives in putting in place a scheme to meet the needs of people with disability arising from vaccination are to provide fair and just compensation for those who may have been injured by a vaccine, to reduce the costs to the State by providing an alternative to litigation and to maintaining public confidence in immunisation.

My Department asked the Health Research Board (HRB) to carry out an evidence review on vaccine injury redress programmes in other jurisdictions. The review was completed in March 2019 and can now be found on the HRB website. This matter is under consideration by my Department with a view to developing a proposal regarding a vaccine damage scheme based on evidence concerning vaccine damage schemes, legal advices and consultation with other Government bodies.

In June 2018, the Government agreed to the establishment of an Expert Group to review the law of torts and the current systems for the management of clinical negligence claims. It was agreed that High Court Justice Charles Meenan would Chair the Group which would advise on whether there are alternative mechanisms to the current court process for resolving clinical negligence and personal injury claims.

Judge Meenan's Expert Group is examining the system from the perspective of the person who has made the claim to explore if there is a better way to deal effectively yet more sensitively with certain cases. In this process the Group is also looking at the impact of tort legislation on the overall patient safety culture and open disclosure. I am informed that the work of the group is at an advanced stage and it is expected to report to both myself and the Minister for Justice and Equality before the end of 2019.

This work, in addition to the HRB's evidence review, will inform the development of a vaccine damage scheme.