CervicalCheck report author meets Health Minister; Fears more women could be impacted by crisis

Update 6pm: The Health Minister has met with Dr Gabriel Scally this afternoon to discuss his report into the cervical check scandal.

Minister Simon Harris has asked him for an independent review of how the 50 recommendations he made are to be implemented.

"I was pleased to meet Dr Scally today to thank him for the work he has done to date and to examine the next steps," said Mr Harris in a statement.

"I look forward to his ongoing involvement and support in this important work."

Earlier today, Dr Scally appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee where concerns were raised that the number of women affected could be more than the 221 we know about.

Update 3pm: CervicalCheck report author fears more women could be impacted by crisis

The author of a report into the Irish cervical cancer screening controversy has raised fears that more women could be affected by the cancer crisis.

Dr Gabriel Scally said he had serious issues with the flawed system and the set of criteria used by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to identify the 221 women affected and said he could not be confident that more women had not been impacted.

The author was questioned on the findings of his scoping report into the scandal at a parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday, the same day as one of the most high-profile women affected by the crisis was laid to rest.

Ms Mhic Mhathuna, 37, died on Sunday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Scally said the death of Emma Mhic Mhathuna served as a timely reminder of the seriousness of the problem.

A minute’s silence was held at the meeting as a mark of respect for Ms Mhic Mhathuna and the other women screened through CervicalCheck who had received incorrect smear test results.

The 37-year-old mother died on Sunday. The flag over Government Buildings in Dublin flew at half-mast on Wednesday afternoon as Ms Mhic Mhathuna’s funeral was due to pass by parliament, Government Buildings and the Department of Health.

Questions were raised at the meeting by Dr Scally and scoping inquiry team member Dr Karin Denton over the 18-month cut-off point chosen by the HSE for the clinical audit.

Dr Denton said: “I’m not yet assured of the exact criteria of identifying those 221 women. They were certainly women who had a diagnosis altered on review but whether there were more who had a diagnosis altered in review, but it wasn’t held to have made any clinical difference, I cannot at this time tell you.”

She added: “There may be other women whose samples were altered on review that haven’t been included in that 221 group.”

Dr Scally said he also had questions he would like answered around the original contract agreements for the laboratories, which had been shredded by the HSE as was common policy after 10 years.

He added that he believed a compensation scheme needed to be considered for women who were failed by cancer screening.

“If they’re failed by that through genuine error then I think there should be a mechanism put in place to deal with that,” he said.

It was the first time, since the publication of the scoping inquiry last month, that Dr Scally appeared in the Oireachtas to discuss the findings. He had met with many of the women affected and their families before publishing the report.

Ireland’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe in his budget day speech on Tuesday announced a further nine million euro would be allocated to the health service next year to fund some of the recommendations of the Scally Report.

Dr Scally said that he had made a promise to the women and their families to ensure he would push for the implementation of the 50 recommendations outlined in the report.

“We haven’t worked this hard to just walk away and let it sit there,” he said.

- Press Association

Update 2.05pm: Concern that other women may be affected by CervicalCheck crisis:

Members of the Scally Review group have raised concerns that there may be other women affected by the CervicalCheck crisis.

The findings of the report into the Cervical Screening Programme have been discussed before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

The team claim the cut-off point chosen by the HSE for possible clinical impact on women may be flawed.

UK consultant Dr Karin Denton, says this has prompted them to ask the HSE more questions.

Earlier, Dr Gabriel Scally described open disclousure guidelines for doctors using the cervical screening proramme as "very seriously deficient".

He says the open disclosure guidelines made it too easy for doctors not to reveal the information.

"They weren't so much open disclosure guidelines as it was a kind of policy where clinicians were encouraged to disclose if the clinicians wanted to disclose.

"But the guidelines gave them every chance...made it really easy for them not to disclose.

"So it wasn't really open disclosure at all."

Compensation should be offered to people affected by CervicalCheck scandal

The author of the report into the Cervical Screening Programme says people who have had their cervical smear tests misread should be compensated.

Dr Gabriel Scally is appearing before the Oireachtas Health Committee today, where a minute's silence was held for Emma Mhic Mhathúna and the other victims of the Cervical Check scandal.

Dr Scally says in order to avoid cases being taken to the courts, compensation should be offered to the victims.

"I think there should be a mechanism put in place where - due to an error where potentially serious consequences - there should be a mechanism for compensating the person for that error," Dr Scally told the committee.

"It should be done in such a way as to avoid adversarial proceedings."

Earlier: Dr Scally to appear before TDs to discuss CervicalCheck Report

Dr Gabriel Scally, author of the report into the Cervical Screening Programme, will be questioned on his findings by an Oireachtas Committee today.

It is the first time, since the publication of the scoping inquiry, he will be before the Health Committee.

The meeting was set up to examine the non-dislosure of information to patients and the apparent widespread practice of non-disclosure.

Over 200 women should have received treatment earlier than they did.

It will also consider the ongoing negotiations between the HSE and the two main laboratories that examine smear tests for the Cervical Check Programme.

The report identified "serious gaps" in the expertise and governance of the programme.

Dr Scally was tasked with carrying out the preliminary inquiry, after it emerged over 200 women should have received earlier treatment than they did.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris says the work will continue to move towards HPV screening.

"My commitment is consistent with the commitment that I've made since this appalling situation developed in relation to moving to the HPV screening and introducing the HPV vaccine for boys and continuing to promote the HPV vaccine, often in the face of campaigns of misinformation which had led to a decrease in the vaccination rate," said Minister Harris.

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