€2,000 ‘Immediate Ex Gratia’ Payment to be made to Victims of CervicalCheck Scandal

A one-off payment of €2,000 from the State is to be made to the 209 women who suffered a delayed cancer diagnosis as a part of the CervicalCheck scandal.

An interim report into the controversy has issued a guideline that “an immediate ex gratia” payment be transferred to every woman impacted, including Vicky Phelan, or to the family of those who have passed away.

The Government, in a meeting today, approved this payment after Health Minister Simon Harris briefed colleagues on the initial interim report made by Dr Gabriel Scally.

Minister Harris said: “This payment relates to addressing any financial obstacles women might encounter in having their voices heard as part of his work.  It would not be a bar to further payment in due course.”

The interim report by Dr Scally also recommends:

  • The Provision of a more thorough guide to the CervicalCheck screening programme via the Internet.
  • That the information statements given to women about the restrictions of the tests should be more explicit about the possible reasons why screening might fail to spot abnormalities that are present as these can lead to the development of cervical cancer.
  • That the details for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that they will have complete access to their cervical screening record when they require it.
  • That the information for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that should there be an issue or mistake of any significance with the screening or reporting process, open disclosure of all the information will take place in a swift, considerate and accurate fashion.

Mr Harris said the UK expert believed the provision of information to women in Ireland who participate in screening tests “is comparable with that available elsewhere and in some respects is better. He also found that the process of completing a consent form at the time of screening is a major strength of the Irish programme. However, he does make a number of important recommendations to improve the information provided to women, including strengthening the statements on the limitations of screening. I will immediately ask the HSE to implement the four recommendations related to this.”

Although Dr Scally has given an opening report on schedule it is thought that he will not be able to meet the end of June deadline for a final submission of his report. Minister Harris said that the inquiry will need to review the facts and get answers quickly for women, while also locating issues that may merit a further in depth statutory examination.

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Man settles €850k Compensation Over his Wife’s Wrongful Death

Widower, Donal O’Sullivan, who took a wrongful death compensation action against a GP and the Health Service Executive after his wife died just a day after a blood test showed she had low levels of potassium, has settled his High Court compensation action for €850,000.

The court was told that mother-of-four Maureen O’Sullivan, who was in her 50s, should have been rushed to hospital after a test showed she had low levels of potassium. Due to this Mr O’Sullivan, from Crookstown Co Cork, sued GP Therese Crotty of Main Street, Ballincollig, Co Cork, and the HSE over the wrongful death of his wife on November 8, 2011.

It was alleged that on the previous November 4, Ms O’Sullivan had seen Dr Crotty as she was suffering from palpitations. A blood test was taken and taken for analysis at Cork University Hospital. On November 7 the result indicating severe hypokalaemia, a low level of potassium, was sent to the Doctor’s surgery in Ballincollig.

The GP, it is claimed, did not arrange to admit Ms O’Sullivan to hospital immediately upon learning she suffered severe hypokalaemia did not advise the patient that this is what she was suffering from.

Furthermore, it was argued that the HSE did not adequately communicate the importance of the abnormal blood test results to the doctor and that there was an absence of appropriate systems of communication. Additionally, it was further stated by Mr O’Sullivan’s legal representatives that the HSE had depended on a clerical officer to communicate the test results that they required urgent clinical attention.

In a letter read to the court, Dr Crotty and the HSE apologised for their role in the events that led to Ms O’Sullivan’s death. It addressed the O’Sullivan family on behalf of Dr Crotty saying: “I deeply regret the tragic circumstances that led to the death of your wife, mother and sister Ms Maureen O’Sullivan. I apologise unreservedly for the part I played in the events leading up to her death. I am acutely conscious of the pain and suffering which this has caused to you all.”

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Irish Cancer Society Provides Extra Counselling for Those Impacted by CervicalCheck Scandal

The Irish Cancer Society has also revealed that it is making emergency funding for an extra 500 counselling sessions in their centres across the country. The Society made this announcement in order to alleviate some of the worry among those impacted by the controversy.

In tandem with this the Government has announced that a cervical smear test will be provided for free to everyone who is worried after the recent revelations in the CervicalCheck scandal.

This offer is being made available to ease the concern associated with the revelations of the incorrect cervical smear test results being discovered. This provision of this service being revealed come after a meeting of senior doctors who sought to address the concerns over the confidence in the CervicalCheck Screening programme was held.

Following a cancer misdiagnosis settlement of €2.5m was announced for Ms Vicky Phelan last week, the CervicalCheck Scandal came to public attention. Ms Phelan had  a cervical smear in 2011 that showed no signs associated with the early stages of cervical cancer. In 2014 a subsequent audit on the results was carried out that indicated the results of that 2011 test were false. Ms Phelan was not advised of this error until 2017 and she now had cervical cancer. In January 2018 she was told that she has just 12 months to live. It was claimed, during the legal action, that her chances of survival would have been 90% if the cancer had been correctly diagnosed in 2011.

The following Support Centres are funding by The Irish Cancer Society nationwide and will be able to provide free professional counselling:

 

  • ARC Cancer Support Centres, Dublin
  • Arklow Cancer Support Group, Wicklow
  • Balbriggan Cancer Support Centre
  • Ballinasloe Cancer Support Centre
  • Cancer Support Sanctuary, LARCC
  • Cois Nore, Kilkenny Cancer Support Centre
  • Cork ARC Cancer Support House
  • Cuan Cancer Social Support and Wellness Group, Co Cavan
  • Cúisle Centre, Portlaoise
  • Dochas Offaly Cancer Support, Tullamore
  • Donegal Cancer Flights & Services
  • Eist, Carlow Cancer Support Centre
  • Gary Kelly Cancer Support, Drogheda
  • Greystones Cancer Support
  • Hope Cancer Support Centre, Enniscorthy
  • Letterkenny Donegal– administered through Sligo Cancer Support
  • Mayo Cancer Support Association, Castlebar
  • Midwestern Cancer Foundation, Limerick
  • Recovery Haven Cancer Support House, Tralee
  • Roscommon Cancer Support Centre
  • Sligo Cancer Support Centre
  • Solas Cancer Support Centre, Waterford
  • Suaimhneas Cancer Support Centre, Nenagh
  • Tallaght Cancer Support Group, Dublin
  • Tuam Cancer Care Centre

 

 

 

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CervicalCheck Helpline Takes Over 2,000 Calls in Three Days

There were over 2,000 calls registered by the CervicalCheck Helpline, established by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to tackle public concerns following the discovery that the results of smear tests completed by a US laboratory in 2014 may have failed to detect the early signs of the disease.

After being made available last weekend a HSE spokesman said that the phoneline, which was put in place by the Serious Incident Management Team (SIMT) was very busy from the time it opened. He stated: “The SIMT was informed that the helpline was once again very busy today. As of 1:30pm there were 614 contacts.”

Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris, speaking at the weekend, had directed that a senior team be put in place to look into CervicalCheck procedures and investigate the 206 cases of the women affected by the screening controversy. The team were mandated to examine each separate case to see if any of the females involved were advised of the delayed cervical cancer diagnosis. Mr Harris also said that he no longer had confidence in the CervicalCheck Senior Management.

Mr Simon Coveney, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, revealed in an interview RTÉ’s that the Government has already moved to make amendments to the system of reporting so that an incident like this will be avoided going forward. Mr Harris commented: “I think learning from this case, I think the Government will move forward on the recommendation of Minister Harris that in cases like this patients are entitled to information quickly. Sometimes it takes cases like Vicky Phelan’s cases to ensure policy change happens quickly”.

Gráinne Flannelly, Head of CervicalCheck programme, resigned from her role in the aftermath of the controversy. This came following the legal action taken by Vicky Phelan due to an incorrect smear test result that was completed in 2011. A 2014 audit by showed that the 2011 smear test results were incorrect. However, Ms Phelan was not told about this until September 2017, by which time the cervical cancer had become terminal.

Recently, in January 2018 Vicky Phelan, was informed that she has between 6-12 months to live. In the High Court action against the US laboratory last week Ms Phelan was awarded €2.5m compensation.

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206 Women Develop Cancer Despite Being Given All Clear

It has been revealed, last night, by the Health Service Executive (HSE) that over 200 women have contracted cervical cancer following a misdiagnosed smear in the free national screening programme.

The initial smear tests in 2011 did not identify abnormal cells which need to be extracted before becoming cancerous. If these women had been referred to for treatment following the initial test they would have had a 90% chance of preventing the cancer.

According to a spokesperson for the HSE, having overlooked the tests in question, it was found 173 women should have been referred to colposcopy  as soon as possible. Another 33 women should have been referred for a repeat smear earlier than 2014. According to CervicalCheck the women went on to be diagnosed with cancer at a later date.

 

In most cases there has been no requirement for further review. However, in 442 cases, review was neccessary.

Rather than contacting the women directly CervicalCheck advised the women’s doctors to communicate directly with their affected patients.

They said: “These communications related to events prior to the diagnosis and would have had no impact on the care management and treatment of the women after they were diagnosed.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris and HSE chief Tony O Brien decided yesterday to have CervicalCheck investigated by senior staff in another cervical screening programme from a separate jurisdiction.

The new figures have been revealed just two days after mother-of-two Vicky Phelan, who has terminal cervical cancer, being awarded €2.5m in the High Court.

Ms Phelan had a false negative smear test result in 2011 but developed symptoms in 2014 and was diagnosed with cancer. She has now been given less than 12 months to live.

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Terminally-Ill Mother Awarded €2.5m in Misdiagnosis Compensation Claim Against US Lab

A 43-year-old terminally ill mother of two, who was wrongly told she did not have cancer in 2011, has settled her case against a US lab for €2.5m.

Vicky Phelan from Annacotty, Co Limerick has recently been told that she has less than a year to live. Despite this, she plans to travel to the US in the hope that she will be accepted to a new programme for ground-breaking treatment to try and treat her illness.

Mrs Phelan was advised, following a test in 2011, she was told there were no abnormalities found in the smear sample sent to Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc. in Austin, Texas. However, following another smear test in 2014 she was told that she had cervical cancer. This was following the company that carried out the initial completing a review that showed the initial results were wrong. Despite this discovery Vicky was not advised of the mistake  that had been made until 2017.

Mrs Phelan’s legal team claimed, in her High Court action which began last week, that if the cancerous cells had been properly detected in 2011 she would have had a straightforward procedure with a 90% chance of survival.

Mrs Phelan’s action against the Health Service Executive was dismissed and the final clinical misdiagnosis compensation settlement was against the US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas only. The settlement was without admission of liability.

After the announcement of the medical negligence award Vicky Phelan, speaking outside the court, made a plea for a thorough investigation in the CervicalCheck screening programme to be carried out.

Mrs Phelan remarked said: “To know for almost three years a mistake had been made and I was misdiagnosed was bad enough but to keep that from me until I became terminally ill and to drag me through the courts to fight for my right to the truth is an appalling breach of trust and I truly hope some good will come of this case and there will be an investigation in the CervicalCheck programme as a result of this.”

In approving the cervical cancer misdiagnosis compensation settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was happy the case had settled and described Ms Phelan as one of the most impressive witnesses he had seen in his court. He wished Mrs Phelan success in her attempts to travel to the the United States for treatment.

The mum, who has recently been treated with a new drug, is still hopeful of being accepted on to the US programme offering radical innovative treatment and she has already raised €200,000 through a Go Fund Me page.

Judge Cross also commended the the legal teams for getting the case which was only started in February this year to court as quickly as they had..

 

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€105,000 Workplace Accident Compensation Award for Former Supermarket Worker Following Cold Room Injury

€105,000 Workplace Accident Compensation Award for Former Supermarket Worker Following Cold Room Injury

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has upheld a €105,000 workplace accident award for a former part-time supermarket employee who suffered an injury when she fell while driving a pallet truck holding stock.

Pamela Phoenix, a 37-year-old female now living in Canada, and formerly of McDonnell Drive, Athy, Co Kildare, took the legal accident against Dunnes Stores in relation to the accident that occurred on September 18, 2006. Ms Phoenix was attempting to move the pallet truck backwards in a cold room when she slipped and fell heavily on her bottom and back.

Ms Phoenix was awarded her €105,929 workplace accident compensation in the High Court in 2016 after that court accepted that she suffered chronic back pain and depressive symptomatology due to the accident. By October 2007 she had gained a considerable amount of weight. The judge stated that he felt she was a credible witness who did not exaggerate the extent of her injuries.

The workplace compensation award was appealed by Dunnes. They argued that the cold room accident compensation award was excessive and disproportionate.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, speaking on behalf of the three-judge Court of Appeal, upheld the workplace compensation award saying while it was probably in the upper range of what is appropriate, given the role of an appeallate court in other case law, the Court of Appeal cannot take any action.

Following the accident Ms Phoenix was rushed by ambulance to St Lukes’ hospital in Kilkenny. Her X-rays came back clear and she was discharged with some pain-killing medication. In the days following the accident she had to use crutches to get around.

She had difficulty re-assuming the same workload that she had managed before the accident and changed jobs to a role with Elverys. In 2007, still suffering from a considerable amount of back pain, she lost that role. She also has difficulty in continuing her studies at Maynooth University and became very psychologically vulnerable, eventually suffering from depressions when she became pregnant and suffered a miscarriage in 2008. She eventually moved to Canada in 2013 where she married and had a baby boy in 2016.

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Girl (11) Damaged at Birth Awarded €10m Compensation Payout

The High Court has approved a €10m compensation settlement for an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy due to the circumstances of her birth at Mayo General Hospital.

This overall payment means that €12.2m is not the total amount paid to Rachel Gallagher of Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo.

Her legal representative Denis McCullough advised the court that Rachel’s parents felt strongly that they would like to complete the process with a final lump sum compensation payment. This is, he told the Hight Court, the Rachel and her family  found the ongoing process – including medical examinations and assessments before court appearances – extremely difficult.

Approving the birth injury compensation settlement against the HSE, President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly stated that this would have been Rachel’s third time in court. Prior to each Court appearance, she had to go through “a battery of tests and assessments” and this created a lot of trauma for Rachel and her family.

The judge said it was a good bith injury compensation settlement that would provide for Rachel for life. Ciara Hynes, Rachel’s mother, the HSE on her behalf in relation to the events around her birth on September 28, 2006.

Ms Hynes was taken to Mayo General on September 27 and the following morning they began to induce the birth and syntocinon was started after midday.

Rachel was delivered in poor condition. It was alleged there was a failure to adequately manage and monitor the labour, delivery and birth of the baby. The court heard negligence was accepted in the case. Senior Counsel Denis McCullough advised the court that Rachel required one-to-one care because she is in danger of falling.

Counsel told the court that she (Rachel) is currently in fifth class at school and it is hoped she will go on to attend both secondary school and university.

When the Judge announced the approval, Rachel put up her hand to be allowed to thank the judge, Mr Justice Kelly.

Mr Justice Kelly remarked said very few judges are thanked and he was very grateful to Rachel. He commented that it was a good settlement, which will provide Rachel with the care she will require for the remainder of her life.

 

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Cerebral Palsy Against the HSE Settled for €1.9m

A 20-year-old woman, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has won a €1.9m interim from the HSE after the way her birth was managed.

Shauni Breen, who was born at Wexford General Hospital just 40 minutes after her healthy twin sister, suffers from cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia and is restricted to a wheelchair. The High Court was told, by Ms Breen’s Legal Representative, that the medical team present at the time did not recognise that it was a high-risk labour.

Ms Breen, who now lives in Glanmire, Co Cork, Ms Breen began the birth compensation case against the HSE due to the events at the time of her delivery on December 30, 1997. Their mother Marie Foley was taken to Wexford General Hospital at 5am on the morning in question.  Following her healthy twin sister Nicole’s  birth at 6.10am the delivery of Shauni lasted for around 40 minutes and was, allegedly, handled in a negligent manner. There was no anesthetist present or adequate supporting team present to deal with every possible eventuality.

The HSE denied these claims in the High Court and argued that management of the birth complied with standard best practice and was consistent with normal procedures in Irish maternity units at the time of the birth in 1997.

Ms Breen’s team of legal representatives claimed that Shauni was showing an  abnormal presentation prior to delivery and should have been delivered by caesarean section within 15 minutes of Nicole’s birth. However, due to issues in the delivery of Ms Breen, she had to be resuscitated and was taken to another hospital.

High Court Judge Kevin Cross approved the €1.9m cerebral palsy birth injury compensation settlement. Ms Breen will come back to court in five years’ time when her future care needs will be assessed in relation to further required costs.

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Boy (8) Awarded Birth Accident Injury Compensation Award of €65,000

The High Court has approved a birth injury compensation settlement of €65,000 for a boy, now aged eight years old. Dara Brennan allegedly experienced a facial injury during his delivery at the Coombe Hospital on November 12, 2009.

It is thought that Dara, Brayton Park, Kilcock, Co Kildare, suffered the injury to his face as a result of an attempted forceps delivery at the hospital.

To this day resultant scarring and two indentations on the right side of his face remain visible when he smiles.

Lorraine Brennan, acting on behalf of her son, took the compensation action against the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital due to the alleged negligence Dara encountered during his birth.

Legal Counsel alleged that the incorrect use of forceps during the delivery inflicted the scars to right side of Dara Brennan’s face. Legal representatives for the boy claimed that there was an absence of the required level of care, competence, judgment and skill appropriate during the delivery of the boy.

It was argued that a more senior or experienced doctor in obstetrics should have attended the birth of Dara Brennan. Counsel for the Coombe Hospital denied these claims.

The High Court was advised by Dara’s legal team that liability was fully contested in the case. In addition, medical experts could not agree on the specific circumstances of the delivery.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross remarked, while approving the birth scarring compensation settlement said that it was as close to complete  compensation as possible for Dara Brennan.

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