CervicalCheck tribunal delay amid consultation failings

Vicky Phelan had described the establishment of a long-waited CervicalCheck tribunal without proper consultation with those impacted as "a slap in the face"
CervicalCheck tribunal delay amid consultation failings

Vicky Phelan had described the establishment of a long-waited CervicalCheck tribunal without proper consultation with those impacted as 'a slap in the face. Picture: Gareth Chaney

The establishment of the CervicalCheck tribunal has been delayed after campaigners raised significant issues with it.

Vicky Phelan had described the establishment of a long-waited CervicalCheck tribunal without proper consultation with those impacted as "a slap in the face".

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly brought a memo to Cabinet last week proposing that the tribunal, which will investigate negligence in the State's cancer screening service, begin tomorrow. However, the start date has now been pushed back

The 221+ Cervical Check Patient Support Group had a number of meetings with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly over the weekend and said they had made progress on the issues raised.

The group had called for the tribunal to be non-adversarial in nature.

They believe that women who suffer a recurrence of their cancer should be allowed to return to the tribunal similar to applicants who came before the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation tribunals.

The group had also asked the minister to address the "genuine concern" that some members, through no fault of their own, would be statute barred from some or all aspects of the tribunal by the prior delay in its establishment.

They said all of these requests had been ignored when the announcement to set up the tribunal was made last week.

A spokesperson for Mr Donnelly said there is now "ongoing constructive engagement" between the Minister, the Department of Health and the 221+ group.

In a statement the 221+ group said: "We note and appreciate the Minister’s decision to pause the establishment of the Tribunal for a number of days which allows some space for 221 members to consider the changes proposed."

Ms Phelan said representatives had a "fairly frank exchange of views" with the Minister during a number of virtual meetings over the weekend as she said the women and their families are "used to seeing this happen time and time again".

She said that Mr Donnelly had been "apologetic" for the way he had handled the issue.

Meanwhile the BreastCheck service is due to resume screenings from tomorrow. The service was stopped in March because of Covid and has been on hold ever since.

BreastCheck are restarting with people who have waited longest for breast screening and invitation letters will be sent first to those who had their appointments cancelled in March.

However, new physical distancing and infection control measures mean that the service will not be able to screen as many women per day.

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