"67 new legal proceedings relating to Cervical Check have been launched in the past three weeks" – Tóibín
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has said that some serious questions remain unresolved in relation to the Cervical Check scandal. He was speaking after figures released to him indicate that there have been nearly seventy new legal cases launched on the matter over the past three weeks.
Deputy Tóibín said: "On 11th November 2020 the Minister for Health revealed to me in writing that since 2018 a total of 160 legal proceedings were issued "relating to the Cervical Check issue". Before 2018 there had been a total of four cases. The Department said that 139 of these "related to the alleged misreading of a smear by a service user", and that 142 of the claims were still in the litigation stage having not yet been concluded in court. In the past week, statistics have been released by co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy TD, which are based on a similar question to the same Minister. However, the statistics released to her by the Department of Health showed that there have been 231 such claims. What this shows is that in the time period between my question and Deputy Murphy's question (which is roughly three weeks), a further 67 cases were launched on the issue".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "There are profoundly serious questions to be asked about the Cervical Check scandal. From the outset of this pandemic I have consistently expressed my disgust at the fact that cancer screening was paused. Cancer screening saves lives. It is a vital and necessary service. Cancer screening should never have been deemed non-essential and it should never have been paused. We now face into the new year with huge backlogs, not just in screening, but also for symptomatic patients. I speak as someone who received a shock cancer diagnosis during lockdown. I was incredibly lucky, and am very aware of how vital screening, early detection, diagnosis and treatment are in terms of survival rates and life expectancy".
"There appears to be a lot of confusion around the Cervical Check scandal. This scandal has not gone away, it was not appropriately or adequately dealt with when it first emerged in 2018. There are women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer in the years since the scandal, and who subsequently brought the labs and cervical check to court and won their cases. Two and a half years on we are still seeing women in court, and we're still seeing admissions of liability and apologies. The Health Minister has been most destructive in his approach to the tribunal and the lack of proper, honest, and upfront engagement with the 221+ group is most unfortunate. We need to have a serious debate about Cervical Check in the Dáil chamber as a matter of urgency. The Health Minister must answer questions, and so too must the previous Health Minster, Simon Harris. The State cannot continue to drag terminally ill women through the courts. It is inhumane", concluded Deputy Tóibín.