Health Minister urges HSE to deliver cancer files

Health Minister Simon Harris has made it clear that money is not an issue for the HSE in getting medical files to women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.

Responding to calls from Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath after it emerged that 88 women and their families are yet to get their medical records, Mr Harris called on the HSE to fulfil its commitment and deliver them.

The 88 women and their families affected by the CervicalCheck scandal are yet to receive their medical files despite requesting them in recent weeks.

Mr Harris said he has told HSE bosses that no expense is to be spared to ease the pain of the women affected, some of whom are terminally ill.

“Well, the most important thing is that the HSE fulfils its commitment to making sure everybody gets access to all of their records within 30 days and quicker if possible,” he said.

It is important to understand that these records are coming from three locations — from the hospital, from the labs, and from CervicalCheck’s office as well.

“So I have assured the HSE that whatever resource they need to speed up the process they can absolutely have.”

Mr Harris said he welcomed the fact mediation is now being offered by the State, so those affected no longer have to sue the State for compensation.

“The mediation process is also under way. I am pleased to see the State Claims Agency inviting women to mediation. It is really important that no one faces an adversarial process. So this remains an absolute priority for the Government,” he said.

“I am in constant contact with the HSE through my department, and we are going to make sure that everything possible is being done to support people.”

Since the Vicky Phelan case came to prominence, the Government promised to do “all it can” to help women affected by the controversy.

Mr McGrath said: “On one level, the Government appears to be making the right noises, but when it comes to delivery the Government has been lacking. The fact that 88 cases remain outstanding... we need them to get their information as quickly as possible.”

Mr Harris was also asked about when he intends bringing legislation to Cabinet to allow for abortions in Ireland. He said it is his intention to bring it in two weeks.

It is still my intention to return to Government on July 10 with the bill to regulate the termination of pregnancy. It is less than a month since we stood here in this square in Dublin Castle when the people of Ireland gave a very resounding and emphatic vote for change.

Mr Harris said although a number of court cases have been taken, which will delay the introduction of the legislation in the Dáil, he will publish the full bill before the summer recess.

“Whilst I can’t introduce that legislation in the Oireachtas until the courts have finished hearing the various issues, I will still publish that legislation, probably on my department’s website, before the summer recess so the people of Ireland can see the fine detail of what we intend to propose. I think they will expect no less from us.”

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