Cut-off for cancer payouts imposed

The State Claims Agency is set to be grilled today over the growing scale of the cervical cancer crisis amid revelations the Government has imposed a cut-off point for affected women to be compensated.

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The public accounts committee (PAC) will question the SCA over 40 separate cases taken against the State on the matter at a meeting this morning almost three months after the scandal emerged.

PAC members, at the launch of its quarterly report yesterday, said they have no faith in the HSE or the Department of Health to willingly provide answers. A number of members intend to raise the issue again today.

Noting the fact the National Treasury Management Agency, which is the State umbrella group for the State Claims Agency, will appear before the PAC this morning, the committee members said they must ensure full clarity on the cervical cancer crisis.

In an opening statement due to be published this morning and seen by the Irish Examiner, the National Treasury Management Agency and SCA said they are aware of the need for “exceptional levels of sensitivity” regarding the crisis.

Acknowledging the “distress and trauma that has been suffered by people who make claims against the State”, the statement says there are currently 40 claims before the court on the issue — including three settled cases, two potential cases, and 35 continuing cases.

The PAC meeting will take place after members lashed out at the HSE and Department of Health for failing to provide answers on the scandal yesterday. They included Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, Fianna Fáil TDs Marc MacSharry and Sean Fleming, Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, Labour TD Alan Kelly, and Independent TD Catherine Connolly.

Asked at the launch of the PAC quarterly report if they believe the excuses for why information has not been quickly provided to Dr Gabriel Scally’s independent scoping exercise, all six TDs present declined to back the department or HSE.

The comments came as it emerged the Government has imposed a cut-off point of May 11 for women affected by the cervical cancer scandal to be compensated for their financial expenses relating to what happened.

The issue was confirmed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil.

Meanwhile, the PAC’s quarterly calls on the Department of Housing to ensure all HAP-funded landlord properties are inspected instead of the current 25% target, to cut back on the “culture” of failing to address scandals, and for drastic reforms to local property tax systems to make better use of State funds.

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