herald

Monday 17 December 2018

'Paltry' €2,000 payout for women affected by CervicalCheck scandal

Vicky Phelan
Vicky Phelan

A payment of €2,000 for each of the women directly affected by the CervicalCheck scandal has been described as "paltry".

An interim report into the controversy has recommended that "an immediate ex gratia" payment be made to every woman impacted, including Vicky Phelan, or to the next of kin of those who have died.

Dr Gabriel Scally, who is heading up an inquiry into the scandal, also suggested in an interim report that some of the state bodies at the centre of the probe are not co-operating fully.

He has received more than 4,000 items of documentation, but a "significant proportion of the documentation provided in electronic format comprises scanned documents from hard copy format, which renders them non-searchable and, in some cases, difficult to read".

The clinician said it was "disappointing and unclear" why documents that would originally have been prepared in electronic format were changed before being handed over.

There is no explanation for how the figure of €2,000 was arrived at, but Health Minister Simon Harris was at pains to stress that it is in addition to any compensation the women may receive.

The Herald understands that Dr Scally did not initially recommend a specific amount.

It was decided to give the 209 women €2,000 following intervention from officials in the Department of Health.

The minister said the money would help address "any financial obstacles women might encounter in having their voice heard" as part of the inquiry.

Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey, who is working for some of the families affected, described it as a "rather small amount".

While welcoming the payment, Ms Haughey said it would be quickly eaten up if these women need to engage lawyers or patient advocates in a bid to secure their medical records.

Permission

Labour Party TD Alan Kelly said the money was "paltry compared to the costs, treatments, supports and additional services many of the women affected now need".

He also criticised confirmation that Dr Scally will not now be in a position to complete his work by the end of the month.

Mr Harris has given him permission to continue working over the summer.

Dr Scally told RTE's Drivetime the work is "much more complex than we could have imagined at the beginning".

He plans to continue "structured conversations" with each of the women whose cancer diagnosis may have been delayed.

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