Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Department of Health
300. To ask the Minister for Health if he will report on the State Claims Agency's dealings with those who have suffered adverse reactions from the Pandemrix swine influenza vaccine administered in December 2009; his views on whether it is best practice that court cases directly involving victims are avoided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22128/18]
I cannot comment on individual cases or matters that are the subject of litigation but I can provide background information on this litigation and clarify matters that are already in the public domain.
As of 9 May 2018, legal proceedings against the Minister, the Health Services Executive and GlaxoSmithKline Biological SA have been initiated by seventy individuals. The plaintiffs allege personal injury in which they claim the development of narcolepsy resulted from the administration of the H1N1 pandemic vaccine. The management of the cases transferred to the State Claims Agency on 15 October 2013 when the Taoiseach signed the National Treasury Management Agency (Delegation of Claims Management Functions) (Amendment) Order 2013. I have been informed by the Agency that cases before the courts in relation to the management of the discovery is the lead case. It would not be appropriate for a Minister to interfere in the courts case management of these claims which are delegated to the SCA for management.
I am continuing to engage with the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Finance on what further improvements can be made to the legal framework governing the management of medical negligence cases.
The Department of Health, the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills continue to work together to provide a wide range of services and supports for those affected. The HSE’s Advocacy Unit acts as liaison with service and support providers and other Government Departments to facilitate access to required services. It is in regular contact with individuals affected. Regional co-ordinators have been appointed to assist individuals by providing advice, information and access to local services.
The ex gratiahealth supports include clinical care pathways to ensure access to rapid diagnosis and treatment, multi-disciplinary assessments led by clinical experts, counselling services for both the individuals and their families, discretionary medical cards for those who have been diagnosed have been provided to allow unlimited access to GP care and any prescribed medication, physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessments. Diagnosis of narcolepsy involves a specialised sleep study system which is currently only available in the Mater Private. It is intended that diagnoses will be carried out in the Centre of Excellence for Narcolepsy in St. James Hospital. This service will combine a new patient referral system with access to expert consultant and advanced nursing expertise for clinical diagnosis, access to the latest neurophysiological diagnostic techniques with overnight and daytime monitoring for both inpatients and outpatients, laboratory testing, brain imaging and genetic testing. The HSE will continue to pay for access to the services, such as dietician and psychology services, that would have been provided in the Centre of Excellence from private providers to so that none of the affected individuals miss out on receiving these supports.