The legal action being taken by a 37-year-old woman with cervical cancer who is suing the Health Service Executive and two laboratories over the incorrect reporting of two smear tests, has been adjourned until September.

The High Court has been told that Ruth Morrissey, a mother-of-one from Limerick, has responded well to treatment so far.

She had been told that she could have less than a year to live.

However, the court heard today that the latest report from her consulting oncologist offers her some hope.

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The court was told that Mrs Morrissey has had a good response to chemotherapy and the tumour in her pelvis has reduced in size and has not spread elsewhere.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the tumour was inoperable and the plan was to proceed to radical radiotherapy.

However, there was no indication as to the prospects of the success of this proposed treatment and there would be a further scan in three months' time.

The oncologist's report suggested that 50% of patients in a similar position responded well to such radiotherapy and went into complete remission.

Mrs Morrissey's lawyers wanted the case to continue next month.

But the two laboratories - Quest Diagnostics and Medlab Pathology - asked the court to adjourn the matter until later in the year.

They said it made more sense to continue the case after the result of that further scan were known.

Lawyers for the laboratories said there was now no imminent risk to Mrs Morrissey and less requirement for the matter to be heard urgently.

Mrs Morrissey's lawyers told the court the legal proceedings had been extremely traumatic for her and she would like the case dealt with as quickly as possible.

Barrister Ciara McGoldrick said Mrs Morrissey had been assessed as needing certain aids, appliances and modifications to her home now to make her more comfortable through debilitating treatment. 

She also told the court Mrs Morrissey was entitled to have the proceedings determined while she still had the capacity to participate in those proceedings.

Mr Justice Cross said the situation was more hopeful from Mrs Morrissey's point of view that earlier reports upon which the application for a speedy hearing of this matter had been based. 

He said that if the matter was to be determined before the results of the radiotherapy were known, it would make it more difficult for the court to make a determination on her prognosis.

But he said this would be his difficulty.

Mr Justice Cross said given the matter had started, it would be unfair to put it back to November and he ruled the hearing should continue on 18 September.

He said he had already recommended mediation and wanted to repeat that the case would benefit from the parties getting together and coming to an agreement.


Read more:

Taoiseach: mediation 'not holy grail' in CervicalCheck controversy


Further disclosure application refused

The court also heard that Mrs Morrissey's lawyers were looking for further disclosure of documents from the HSE relating to case review reports for over 200 people who were not parties to this case.

Ms McGoldrick said part of Mrs Morrissey's case was that the State failed to put in place an appropriate system of cervical screening and appropriate oversight of the screening programme.

The HSE is objecting to this disclosure.

Its lawyers told the court this opened up new areas of controversy and would mean the HSE would not be ready to proceed in September.

Mr Justice Cross said the application was novel and there were issues about confidentiality and relevance.

He said he was not going to make such an order without a proper motion being brought to court by Mrs Morrissey's lawyers.