The CervicalCheck Tribunal, which was set up to hear and determine claims linked to CervicalCheck, has extended the closing date for eligible claims to 26 January 2022.
The Government agreed to set up the tribunal in December 2018 to provide an alternative system, outside the courts process, for dealing with claims arising from the misreading of test results in the CervicalCheck system.
The extension follows the signing into law of the CervicalCheck Tribunal (Amendment) Act 2021 on 16 July 2021.
The original deadline had been 26 July 2021, but the tribunal’s work was affected by COVID-19 restrictions, as well as the cyber-attack on the HSE, which resulted in the tribunal’s email and databases being taken offline as a precautionary measure.
“After the appointment of the members on 1 December, the epidemiological situation in Ireland worsened considerably and the necessary restrictions imposed on movement and working practices caused significant disruption to all legal proceedings, particularly those where claimants had to attend medical practitioners to secure reports on their conditions,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (pictured) told the Dáil earlier this month.
The body was established on 27 October 2020, but there was a subsequent five-week pause during which claims could not be made, as discussions with the 221+ patient-support group took place.
The group had previously raised a number of concerns about how the tribunal would operate — including its adversarial nature.
Minister Donnelly said that he had given the group a commitment that its members would not be disadvantaged by the five-week gap.
Opposition parties, while supporting the extension, had raised questions about the tribunal, pointing out that very few claims had been made so far. David Cullinane (Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on health) said earlier this month that the women affected by the controversy were “voting with their feet”.
The amendment to the original legislation allows for a six-month extension for the receipt of claims. It also allows the minister to order a further six-month extension.