Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Health
State Claims Agency Data
680. To ask the Minister for Health the legal costs of fighting court cases in relation to the administration of the pandemrix vaccine; and his views on whether the State should cease fighting court cases against persons that suffered narcolepsy after receiving the pandemrix virus and instead ensure that they receive appropriate compensation without the need for expensive court cases. [3230/20]
The State Claims Agency (SCA) has a statutory remit to manage personal injury claims, including claims in respect of clinical negligence, on behalf of Delegated State Authorities (DSA’s) including the Health Service Executive. The management of the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine cases is delegated to the State Claims Agency and I have no role in determining how these cases are conducted.
An Expert Group was established in June 2018, under Mr Justice Charles Meenan, to examine the law in relation to personal injuries arising in the healthcare context and to explore alternative mechanisms by which claims could be managed more effectively, particularly from the perspective of the person on whose behalf a claim has been made. The final Report from this Expert Group has been received and both the Department of Health and the Department of Justice and Equality are considering it. The recommendations of this Report will be taken into account in relation to the development of any vaccine compensation scheme.
In addition, the Health Research Board recently completed a review of the evidence on vaccine injury redress programmes in other jurisdictions and this report will also be considered in conjunction with the Expert Group’s recommendation.
Since 2012, the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Department of Education and Skills, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have worked 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 has also engaged with representatives of SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder). Four regional narcolepsy co-ordinators have been appointed as single points of contact to assist patients and their families by providing advice, information and access to local services.
The ex-gratia health supports include:
- clinical care pathways to ensure access to 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;
- physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessments.
The information requested by the Deputy concerning legal costs of fighting court cases in relation to the administration of the Pandemrix Vaccine is not readily available. Accordingly, I have asked the State Claims Agency to collate the information and it will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.