Number of lawsuits against CervicalCheck rises to 369

The number of lawsuits against CervicalCheck, the national screening service, has now risen to 369, including 76 cases related to the mental health impairment of families of women who allegedly received a false swab result.

This year saw the highest number of claims, at 103, according to figures from the State Claims Agency.

In 2018, when Vicky Phelan’s case was settled in the High Court and it emerged an internal CervicalCheck retrospective audit was conducted on women after they had been diagnosed with cervical cancer
Cancer, 86 claims have been made, figures revealed from a parliamentary response by Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.

Ms Phelan’s case led to revelations that only a minority of women were informed about the test or that their screening test could have yielded a different result and earlier follow-up was recommended.

Another 52 lawsuits were filed in 2019 and 95 in 2020. Mr Tóibín had asked how many cases were brought against CervicalCheck and the HSE for alleged misinterpretation of swab tests.

In its response, the State Claims Agency confirmed that 76 of the 369 claims “are related to psychological claims by family members.”

Earlier this month, Dr. Nóirín Russell, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck, regrets the comments she made during a conversation with Mr Tóibín in December 2020, saying they do not reflect her views today.


Clinical Director of CervicalCheck Dr. Noirin Russell

In a video call she had with the Meath TD in December 2020, Dr. Russell that some attorneys were making “huge amounts of money” from court cases representing women who had been screened and later developed cervical cancer.

She said some women were told “if someone did their job right, you wouldn’t have cancer, and for the vast majority of women that’s not the case,” according to a transcript of the private meeting.

In response to the transcript, Group 221+, which represents women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy, said the comments “are consistent with what we’ve heard and felt over the past two years, and it is one.” Relief that the public can now see the settings behind closed doors that we were dealing with.

“What happens now as a result of these revelations is a matter for others.

“Our primary purpose is to support member needs.”

The group stressed that it fully supports cervical screening and urges women to take advantage of the service.

Public health expert Dr. Gabriel Scally, is expected to report on the progress of his 2019 recommendations for the service’s overhaul and future in the coming weeks.

The 2019 report resulted in a new layer of governance for CervicalCheck. Samples from women are now tested for the HPV virus, which prevents more cancers than previous primary cytology tests. Number of lawsuits against CervicalCheck rises to 369

Fry Electronics Team

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