A 32-year-old woman who is seriously ill with cancer has settled her case against the HSE over the reading of her cervical smear tests.

Speaking outside court afterwards, Lynsey Bennett said she could now "focus on my own fight to stay alive as long as I can".

Her case was due to start at the High Court today but was settled through mediation.

Ms Bennett, who has two young daughters, had four smear tests between 2010 and 2016, but each time was told they were negative.

After her last smear test in 2016, she was told no abnormalities were found and she would be called for routine testing in three years' time.

Eleven months later, she went to her GP with bleeding, and in January 2017 she was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, requiring a hysterectomy.

In 2018, her cancer returned and she is now seriously ill.

Last December as she prepared for her High Court case, she recorded a video on her Facebook page in which she delivered an emotional message to the Government. The video was viewed online by thousands of people.

In court today, a statement was read on behalf of the cervical screening service expressing "deep regret" to Ms Bennett and her family and acknowledging the "many challenges" she had faced.

The service said it was appreciated that this had been a very difficult time and it was hoped the settlement would provide some solace.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court and the settlement was made without admission of liability.

Ms Bennett told Mr Justice Kevin Cross she intends to set up a trust fund for her two daughters.

Ms Bennett, from Ennybegs, Killoe, Co Longford had sued the HSE, and two laboratories over her cervical smear slides taken under the national screening programme.

In her action for damages it was claimed there was a failure to correctly report or diagnose, and an alleged misinterpretation of, Ms Bennett's smear samples.

 

Her lawyers said her cancer was allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January 2017. The claims were denied and the case was due to start at the High Court today.

Ms Bennett had a smear test on 3 February 2010, which was sent to Eurofins Biomnis in Dublin. The test came back as negative and another smear test was recommended in three years.

On 16 December 2013, Ms Bennett had another smear test as part of the national cervical screening programme.

This sample was sent to US lab Quest Diagnostics and came back as showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. A smear test in 12 months was recommended.

On 2 December 2014, Ms Bennett had another smear test and the sample was reviewed by Quest Diagnostics.

It was claimed the result came back negative and she was advised by CervicalCheck there were no abnormalities and a repeat smear in a year was recommended.

She had another smear test in January 2016, which was tested at the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics, and she was told no abnormalities had been detected and she would be reminded to have her routine smear test in three years' time.

Eleven months later, she went to her GP complaining of bleeding and was referred to hospital.

In January 2017, invasive cervical cancer was diagnosed. Ms Bennett had to have a hysterectomy and other surgery.

In March 2018, she was found to have a recurrence of the cervical cancer. The court heard today there was a "limited life expectancy" in the case, but she is pursuing new treatment options both in Ireland and abroad.

Speaking outside court afterwards, Ms Bennett said: "I stand here today extremely grateful to everyone who has supported me and the girls since my first diagnosis in 2017 – my family, friends, strangers, and of course my legal team.

"I send my love to all the women and their families who have fought and continue to fight our heartbreaking illness.

"I can now focus on my own fight to stay alive as long as I can.

"To my daughters, Zoe and Haley, I hope I have done enough to secure you both a future free from financial worries and that even with me not here to guide you that you can both pursue your dreams and remember Mammy loves you."

In a letter read to the High Court, CervicalCheck CEO Fiona Murphy said she wished on behalf of the CervicalCheck programme "to express our deep regret to you and your family".

She added: "I wish to acknowledge the many challenges that you have faced as a result of your diagnosis. I appreciate that this has been a very difficult time for you and your family and I hope you find some solace with the conclusion of this process."

Ms Murphy said she hoped the settlement will give Ms Bennett and her family "some level of comfort, peace of mind and security".

The letter concluded: "With deepest regret."