The Programme for a Partnership Government 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 to carry out an evidence review on vaccine injury redress programmes in other jurisdictions. The review has been completed 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 submissions were invited by the Group with 39 submissions received in total. The Expert Group commenced its work in September 2018 and has met on a monthly basis since its first meeting. Judge Meenan submitted an Interim Report to myself and the Minister for Justice and Equality on the 9th of January. The Final Report is expected in November.