Woman who claims her cervical cancer slide was misread sues over exclusion from State care package
Posted on 18th January 2023 at 22:01
The woman settled for €450,000 a separate personal injuries case over alleged misreading of her sample
A woman has launched a High Court challenge over a refusal by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the State to grant her a care package of supports given to women diagnosed with cervical cancer whose cytology samples were allegedly misread.
The woman was not granted the package on the grounds that she does not satisfy the criteria for access to the package put in place by the government more than three years ago.
In a High Court action, the woman, who is aged in her mid-30s, claims that she has been wrongly excluded from the scheme.
The woman, who cannot be identified by order of the court, claims that she was diagnosed in 2016 as having cervical cancer, for which she underwent treatment.
Her diagnosis came after she was screened as part of the national CervicalCheck programme.
She claims she subsequently discovered that two earlier samples she had provided in 2013 and 2010, which had tested “negative” for potential cancer, were incorrect.
In a separate personal injury action before the High Court, the woman sued the HSE seeking damages for allegedly misreading her sample and for a three-year delay in diagnosing her cancer.
Her case was settled last October for €450,000 plus costs.
Last year she applied to the National Screening Service (NSS) to be included in a scheme known as the 221+ group care package.
The package came about following a review that showed that the results of samples provided by a number of women under the CervicalCheck programme could not be supported. The review came into the public domain after the late Vicky Phelan’s proceedings against the HSE and clinical pathology labs were settled.
The package includes the life provision of a medical card and other health services required by the women due to the alleged failure to correctly read their samples.
In decisions issued on behalf of the NSS in September and October of last year, the woman was informed her application had been refused.
It was turned down on grounds including that the applicant was not one of the women, known as the 221+ group, whose test results were identified in the HSE’s auditing process as being inaccurate.
In addition, she was also informed by the NSS that she did not participate in the review process.
She was further told it was not open to the NSS to revise the criteria for her application for the support packages.
She claims no provision was made for her exclusion from the scheme in the settlement of her personal injuries claim.
Represented by Patrick Treacy SC and Jeremy Maher SC, instructed by solicitor Cian O’Carroll, the woman has brought judicial review proceedings against the Minister, the HSE, Ireland and the Attorney General aimed at obtaining access to the package.
Her action has been brought on grounds that the decision to exclude her is irrational, an error in law and unreasonable, given that she was identified by the HSE as somebody who was diagnosed with cervical cancer after her smear test was read inaccurately.
The reasons given by the respondents, it is also claimed, are incorrect.
In her action, she seeks various reliefs including an order directing the Minister and the HSE to admit her to all the benefits provided by the 221+ care package. She also seeks a declaration that she is entitled to the package.
The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who on an ex parte basis granted the woman permission to bring her challenge against the respondents.
The matter was adjourned to a date next month.
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