CervicalCheck tribunal on screening claims postponed over coronavirus

221+ support group says delay may cause statute of limitation to be reached for some women

The establishment of the CervicalCheck tribunal to process claims by women affected by issues at the State’s cervical cancer screening programme has been postponed. File photograph: Getty

The establishment of the CervicalCheck tribunal to process claims by women affected by issues at the State’s cervical cancer screening programme has been postponed. File photograph: Getty

 

The establishment of the CervicalCheck tribunal to process claims by women affected by issues at the State’s cervical cancer screening programme has been postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The decision was made by Minister for Health Simon Harris and relayed to the affected women in a message on the tribunal’s website.

This says the decision to delay the establishment of the tribunal has been made “given the ongoing and quickly evolving situation in relation to Covid-19”.

The situation will be monitored and further updates will be posted on the website and communicated to “relevant groups through the usual channels”, the tribunal says.

“As soon as medical advice recommends that it would be safe and prudent to establish the tribunal, all steps necessary to do so will be taken as expeditiously as possible.”

The 221+ CervicalCheck Support Group, which was informed yesterday of the decision, said it was concerned the delay may cause the statute of limitation to be reached for some women bringing a claim before the tribunal.

Various options examined

“The Department has acknowledged this as a concern and has assured us that it is examining various options to address the issue and to ensure that no prospective claimant is disadvantaged by this necessary decision. 221+ will continue to advocate actively on this matter until it is no longer a concern,” the group said in a statement.

The decision to delay the tribunal was made by Minister for Health Simon Harris and relayed to the affected women in a message on the tribunal’s website. Photograph: Steve Humphreys/Reuters
The decision to delay the tribunal was made by Minister for Health Simon Harris and relayed to the affected women in a message on the tribunal’s website. Photograph: Steve Humphreys/Reuters

The tribunal, which is chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, was set up to provide a less adversarial alternative to the courts for processing claims.

Separately, the National Screening Service says “it is still our intention” to move to HPV screening from the current slide-based system on March 30th, as long planned.

“However, due to the evolving Covid-19 emergency, this could change.”

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s finding in a test case taken by Ruth Morrissey, one of the women impacted upon by the CervicalCheck controversy two years ago.