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HSE accepts providing cervical smear slides for three women affected by scandal is 'critical and urgent'

The case of three women affected by the controversy was being heard in High Court today.

Emma Mhic Mhathúna
Emma Mhic Mhathúna
Image: Screengrab from HSE video/YouTube

THE HSE TODAY has told the High Court it accepted the provision of documentation and cervical smear slides involving three women affected by the cervical check controversy was “critical and urgent”.

Eileen Barrington, senior counsel for the HSE, told Mr Justice McGrath that matters were being looked into “as we speak” and were being treated with great urgency.

She said the HSE had today been given only a half hour’s notice of requests for information from The National Maternity Hospital with regard to tests carried out in relation to two women in 2009 and 2010 and the hospital and the HSE were doing their best to address these new issues as quickly as possible.

Pat Treacy, SC, counsel for Emma Mhic Mhathúna and two other women, who by direction of the court cannot be identified, said Mhic Mhathuna, a co plaintiff with her five children, was not insisting on media reporting restrictions in her case.

Cian O’Carroll, the Co Tipperary-based lawyer representing Ms Mhic Mhathuna had brought proceedings on her behalf today for orders compelling US laboratories to hand over the slides in her case and in two other urgent cases brought to court last week.

Treacy said the cases, two of which came before Mr Justice Cross in the High Court last week, arose out of the alleged misreading of cervical tests all involving patients who were terminally ill.

Mhic Mhathúna’s proceedings had been issued today and applications had been made to the court for early trial dates.

Treacy said the cases involved non-disclosure of cervical check processes and liability was fully at issue in all of them.

The women concerned required production of cervical smear slides today so that appropriate pathologists and clinicians could study and report on them.

He said negotiations with regards the putting in place of a protocol for the handing over of slides by Medlab Pathology Limited Ireland and a New Jersey laboratory Quest had to the loss of a vital six days in dealing with the legal proceedings.

Barrister Donal McGuinness, counsel for Medlab, and Emily Egan, SC, counsel for Quest, told the court that their clients were prepared to immediately hand over slides subject to directions of the HSE and the protocol agreed between the HSE and the plaintiffs.

Treacy told the court that matters had now reached a situation where the three women concerned required slides to be made available to them today.

Barrington said everything possible was being done to meet the demands of the plaintiffs but she was unable to give an exact time when the slides and documentation would be handed over.

Judge McGrath adjourned today’s applications for court orders until tomorrow morning, giving all parties an extra 24 hours in which to advance matters.

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