Cervical cancer legal cases double

The number of cervical cancer victim legal cases has almost doubled since mid-summer, despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s promise that no woman will be needlessly hauled before the courts to prove their case.

The State Claims Agency will admit the surge in cases today during a meeting on Ireland’s response to medical negligence claims and payouts.

In an opening statement to the Dáil’s public accounts committee, the agency’s director, Ciaran Breen, will say that, to date, there have been 85 cases lodged against cervical check over the recent smear tests scandal.

Of this figure, Mr Breen will confirm that 73 cases are still active, six are considered “potential” claims, one has closed and five more have been settled.

The 85 cases rate is almost double the 49-cases rate in mid-summer and is far higher than the 22 claims made against the State at the end of May — a surge that is set to put significant pressure on Mr Varadkar amid claims he broke his promise to victims.

This is because, in the immediate aftermath of Vicky Phelan’s High Court revelations in April, Mr Varadkar said no other woman would be forced to go through the trauma of a stressful court case to prove she was a victim of avoidable mistakes.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News on May 11, Mr Varadkar said: “What we propose to do is to offer mediation in every case so that women can avoid having to go to court and the trauma of a court hearing. What we will do in this situation is the State will settle and pursue the lab later. So essentially the State will be on the side of the plaintiff, on the side of the woman.”

In later comments in July, Mr Varadkar attempted to backtrack, saying he should have been “clearer” in his promise and that ultimately anyone can take a case while the US labs which are also defendants have a right to protect themselves.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.