Not enough judges to hear CervicalCheck cancer cases, court told

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he may be faced with having to hear two actions in one day

Ruth Morrissey has sued the HSE and two US laboratories over alleged misreading of her cervical smear slides in 2009 and 2012.   File photograph: Collins Courts

Ruth Morrissey has sued the HSE and two US laboratories over alleged misreading of her cervical smear slides in 2009 and 2012. File photograph: Collins Courts

 

There are not enough judges to hear the cases of women suing over alleged misreading of their CervicalCheck smear slides, a High Court judge warned on Tuesday.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross,who is hearing evidence on the eighth day of the action by a woman terminally ill with cervical cancer, said he may be faced with having to hear two actions in one day, one in the morning and switching to another in an afternoon as the cases mount up.

“I can’t see a way around it,’ he said. If cases don’t settle, the court will have to do something, he said.

He added : “I apologise to everyone. There are not enough judges to do the cases.”

The judge’s comments came after he was told another case linked to the alleged misinterpretation of cervical smears taken under the CervicalCheck programme is due to start at the end of this month.

The current case, by Ruth Morrissey, is still going on with another case due to begin in March.

Ms Morrissey, of Kylemore Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Limerick, has sued the HSE and two US laboratories over alleged misreading of her cervical smear slides in 2009 and 2012. Her case started last July and resumed before the High Court eight days ago and is expected to last several more weeks.

Last November, Mr Justice Cross said people who have sued over alleged delays in cancer diagnosis and alleged misdiagnosis may have died before their cases are heard.

He called for more judges to be appointed to the High Court to deal with the personal injuries list which has been swamped with complex cases including those related to the CervicalCheck controverssy.

The judge on that occasion warned that “great injustices will be caused” particularly for those “in extremis”.

In court on Tuesday, Mr Justice Cross said the situation has not improved and it does not look likely it will.

He said he has only three other judges available to him on the personal injuries list.

Mr Justice Cross said all judges in the High Court are hearing cases in all areas including commercial, asylum, Articles 40 and the President of the High Court, who oversees the running of the High Court, has scarce resources.

The personal injuries list is also expected to hear several other long running cases this year, including breast cancer cases and cases in relation to the swine flu vaccine.