Pressure Mounting On Health Minister As CervicalCheck Scandal Deepens

Lynette PayneMay 02, 2018

The Chairperson of the HSE Serious Incident Management Team said 162 of the 208 women affected by the screening controversy were not told that a review had been conducted by CervicalCheck, or of the outcome.

However, a number of gynaecology healthcare staff warned the government a decade ago about moving testing to private companies overseas, as they feared cancer cases would be missed.

Dr. Grainne Flannelly, the clinical director of the government-run CervicalCheck program, which provides free smear tests to women between 25 and 60, resigned over the weekend. The cause of their deaths is not known.

Dr Lynch said patients were being contacted today by their hospital and all should be contacted by tomorrow.

Others have asked why women were not informed earlier of their false tests results with some Global Positioning System and CervicalCheck apparently each believing it was up to the other to do so.

HSE Director General Tony O'Brien said he had concerns over what was emerging about CervicalCheck last week. Mr O'Brien said he did not have sufficient information at present to state who had been at fault.

She told the HSE of her intention to resign saying she was sorry that recent events caused distress and worry to women. Ms Phelan had a smear test in 2011 which showed no abnormalities.

Detailed tests for Ireland's CervicalCheck screening programme, which has operated for the last 10 years, normally take place every three years but because of a backlog they were outsourced to a United States company.

Revelations in the Dáil last night that a potentially considerable number of cervical cancer cases have not been clinically audited were described by opposition TD's as "a bombshell". In the majority of these cases there had been no requirement for further review.

A briefing note was prepared for Health Minister Simon Harris over a week before a settlement was reached in Vicky Phelan's High Court case.

A HSE spokesperson also established, at the briefing, that 46 of the women were told of the review, while 162 were not told.

Mr Harris said this evening: "Whilst I had previously been advised, and it had been commonly understood that CervicalCheck clinical audit covered all cases notified to the National Cancer Registry, I have been informed this afternoon that this is not the case".

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