Women given ‘months to live’ sue HSE over de­lays in re­sults

Irish Independent - - News - Tim Healy

TWO more le­gal ac­tions in­volv­ing women su­ing over al­leged de­lays re­lat­ing to Cer­vi­calCheck smears have come be­fore the High Court.

The cases are the first to be listed in the court since the Cer­vi­calCheck smear con­tro­versy arose last month when Lim­er­ick woman Vicky Phe­lan set­tled her ac­tion for €2.5m.

In court yes­ter­day, dates were set in July for the hear­ing of the two ac­tions and for an­other ac­tion by a woman who has ovar­ian can­cer all re­lat­ing to pre­vi­ous can­cer checks.

All cases are against the HSE and lab­o­ra­to­ries who car­ried out the orig­i­nal tests. Mr Jus­tice Kevin Cross also granted an or­der that the women in all three cases not be iden­ti­fied in any­way.

In the first cer­vi­cal smear case, the court heard the prog­no­sis for the woman is “not good” and she has been given a life ex­pectancy of be­tween six to 12 months. The woman only heard of the al­leged mis­di­ag­no­sis of a 2012 smear test on May

3 last. In the sec­ond cer­vi­cal smear case the court heard the woman is cur­rently un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy and ra­dio­ther­apy as she suf­fers from cer­vi­cal can­cer and breast can­cer.

Jeremy Ma­her SC, for the woman, said she had a smear test in 2009 and an­other in

2012, which came back as neg­a­tive and her cer­vi­cal can­cer was di­ag­nosed this year.

Coun­sel said it was their case the cer­vi­cal can­cer should have been de­tected ear­lier. He said a review of the smear tests was car­ried out in 2014 and 2015 but the woman was not in­formed of the review or of the review re­sults which showed the orig­i­nal tests re­sults were in­cor­rect.

Coun­sel said the woman has a life ex­pectancy “lim­ited to months”. There would be a real con­cern if the case was not heard until Oc­to­ber, he said.

In the ovar­ian can­cer case, the court hear the woman in­volved had a fam­ily his­tory of ovar­ian can­cer and had checks be­tween 2010 and 2017.

The woman had a hys­terec­tomy and other pro­ce­dures last year when it was dis­cov­ered she had Stage 3 ovar­ian can­cer which had not been di­ag­nosed pre­vi­ously.

Patrick Treacy SC, for the woman, said his side would con­tend the di­ag­no­sis should have been made ear­lier and there were al­leged in­di­ca­tors in 2013.

He asked that this mat­ter be case-man­aged by the court and an early hear­ing be set be­cause of the dire sit­u­a­tion. He said the solic­i­tors in­volved were co-oper­at­ing re­gard­ing dis­cov­ery of doc­u­ments nec­es­sary for the case.

Coun­sel for the HSE Patrick Han­ratty said there was no ob­jec­tion to the ap­pli­ca­tion and the case was set down for July. Fix­ing all three cases to go on trial for dif­fer­ent dates in July, Mr Jus­tice Cross urged the par­ties in­volved to explore al­ter­na­tive means of res­o­lu­tion.

The can­cer-screen­ing scan­dal emerged last month when Vicky Phe­lan (43) set­tled for €2.5m her court ac­tion against a US lab­o­ra­tory that the Cer­vi­calCheck screen­ing ser­vice had sub­con­tracted to read smear tests.

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