Women and families affected by Cervical Check scandal to receive €2,000 payment

The immediate payment will "not be a bar to further payment"

Women and families affected by Cervical Check scandal to receive €2,000 payment

Simon Harris. Image: Sean Defoe

Updated 17.00

Health Minister Simon Harris has said each woman affected by CervicalCheck scandal or her family will get a €2,000 assistance payment to address any financial obstacles for them.

The Government has stressed that the payment will not affect any future settlement or compensation.

In cases where the woman has died, the the next of kin of the deceased will receive the payment.

The announcement came as the first findings of the inquiry into the controversy were published this afternoon.

Dr Gabriel Scally, who is leading the inquiry, has yet to finish his full investigation - but has provided a progress report and a report into one of the terms of references.

He has made six recommendations - including the €2,000 payment; a process to have "structured conversations" with women affected who wish to have their experience documented; and for a 'more comprehensive' guide to the cervical screening process to be published online.

He also recommends making sure women have full access to the records of their checks; and - in the event of a problem - that open disclosure would take place quickly and accurately.

Minister Harris said: "Following the approval of Government, I am making arrangements for the ex-gratia payment as recommended by Dr Scally. This payment relates to addressing any financial obstacles women might encounter in having their voices heard as part of his work. It would not be a bar to further payment in due course.

"I have also requested Dr Scally to identify arrangements that he could put in place as part of his inquiry to undertake the process of structured conversations."

He added: "When we set up this Inquiry I was very clear about the need to examine the facts and get answers quickly for Irish women, while also identifying issues that may merit a further full statutory investigation.

"I’m very pleased that Dr Scally’s work is progressing and he has already come to me with a list of recommendations which will improve the information provided to women who take part in our screening service and help support those who wish to participate in the Scally process."

Ongoing inquiry

209 women were impacted by the Cervical Check scandal, and more than 20 women or family members affected are said to have made contact with the inquiry.

Dr Scally has stressed that a "more extensive and sensitive engagement approach is required to be put in place for women and families directly affected by these events".

Interviews are also said to be continuing with 'key individuals' - including officials from the Department of Health and HSE.

Dr Scally says his work will not be done until the end of the summer - saying a large portion of the 4,000 documents he has been given only arrived from the HSE, Department of Health and others in recent days.

He noted that many are in formats that can't be searched digitally.

The Taoiseach acknowledged there has been a delay in getting documents, while Health Minister Simon Harris has defended the progress made.

However, People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said the delay is not acceptable - claiming that it suggests official agencies "have been dragging their heels".