Women in CervicalCheck controversy told of 6-month wait for payment
Department of Health pledges it will not delay in dealing with €5m ex-gratia scheme
At the formal launch of 221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group were, from left, Stephen Teap, Lorraine Walsh and Vicky Phelan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The Department of Health has pledged that it will not delay issuing ex-gratia payments to women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.
A number of affected women have said that they were told they could be waiting up to six months to receive ex-gratia payments which will be administered under a new €5 million scheme.
The 221 women or their next of kin can apply for the payment.
The level of payment has not yet been set, but is expected to be about €25,000 each, based on the settlement reached in a court case last year.
Many of the women received letters in recent days informing them about how they can apply for the payment.
They have been given a deadline of May 30th to send in their applications.
One family told the Irish Times they had inquired about when they could anticipate receiving the payment once their case was approved and were told it could take up to six months.
The Department of Health said the process would be “straightforward” and payments would issue immediately after the applications had been approved.
“The decision on whether a woman is eligible to receive a payment is to be made by the independent assessment panel,” a spokeswoman said.
“However, the Department of Health and the panel are clear that there is no need to delay, once a woman has returned her consent to participate, in most cases the decision is straightforward. Once a decision is made, we can process payments immediately.
“The reference to six months is due to the fact that the panel are required to provide a report to the Minister after six months. In fact, the panel will meet at the end of May to consider the first batch of applications.
“Once decisions are made in individual cases and instructions are received from the panel , the department will make payments quickly.”
One affected family said they were told there was no “definitive timeframe” when they inquired about how long they might be waiting.
They said they were told a review team would examine the documentation and when this was completed, contact would be made with each woman or their next of kin to advise, which could take up to six months.
The letter sent to the affected women says participation in the scheme does not prevent anyone from taking another case in relation to CervicalCheck.
“The scheme is intended to recognise that appropriate and timely disclosure did not take place in some cases and to make a payment to those women for the impact of non-disclosure,” it says.
A separate statutory tribunal is being established to provide an alternative to court cases for claims arising out of the CervicalCheck controversy.