Cervical Check

  • The cervical cancer steering committee will meet later this morning, after a week of controversy which has dogged the national screening programme.

    Patient representatives will get an opportunity to question health officials over why 800 women experienced delays in getting their HPV virus test results.

    This latest Cervical Check problem arose exactly one week ago, when it emerged around 800 women who underwent screening were not issued with their results due to a so-called IT issue with the Quest lab in the U.S.

    That figure has now been revised upwards to 856 women.

    52 women had a changed result after their re-test, and tested positive for the HPV virus.

    26 of those have been referred on for colposcopies.

    The HSE says the clinical risk to their health is low and is trying to contact the GPs of the other 26 women.

    This morning the cervical cancer steering committee will meet.

    It's made up of health officials, senior civil servants and patient advocates Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh, the founders of a support group for women affected by Cervical Check issues.

    Questions around whether all 52 women have been notified of their results, if they've all been referred for appropriate follow-up, whether the other 800 women affected have been told, why it took the HSE so long to tell the Department of Health, and how can public confidence be restored in Cervical Check will dominate.

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    A demonstration will take place at The Fairgreen in Westport on Saturday afternoon, as part of a nationwide rally against the Cervical Check scandal.

    The demonstrations are being organised by the Standing4Women campaign, and will take place at 2pm Saturday in 26 counties across the country.

    The organisers are calling for the new Patient Safety Bill, which will provide for mandatory open disclosure, to be enacted without any further delays.

    It's understood the Health Minister Simon Harris is to bring the Bill before the Cabinet later this week, but it's unsure if it can be introduced before the Summer recess.

    It emerged in April that an audit of smear tests showed 209 women with cervical cancer would have benefited from earlier treatment.

    Tara Bleeks is regional organiser of Standing4Women, says Saturday's demonstration in Westport is the second of its kind, to show support for the women involved and their families...

  • Following on from the Cervical Check controversy, it's been confirmed that 26 cases are being dealt with involving women from counties Mayo, Galway and Roscommon.

    The figure was provided at yesterday's meeting of the HSE Regional Forum in Galway, where Galway-based FG Councillor Padraig Conneely questioned HSE management on what number of cases have been settled in the West, and how many are still pending.

    He also asked for details on whether these cases are being settled out of court, and said the patients involved should have their cases settled quickly.

    Management did not provide the details Councillor Conneely requested in relation to individual cases, but did confirm that there are 26 women involved across three counties in the West.

  • A Mayo TD wants extra capacity immediately in the Cervical Check scheme, to deal with the backlog that is currently there.

    Mayo Fianna Fail Deputy Lisa Chambers was speaking after the revelations that up to 6,000 women are likely to be called for a retest after an issue at Quest Laboratories arose last November.

    The problem relates to standard HPV tests being carried out outside of the manufacturers recommended timeframe.

    The HSE has assured women who need a repeat smear following the issue, that they will be prioritised.

    Deputy Chambers broke the news of the latest issue with Cervical Check, following investigations which she began last November. Deputy Chambers is one of the women waiting on retest results for an extended period of time.

    As well as additional capacity, Deputy Chambers wants Minister for Health Simon Harris to come into the Dail and give answers on this latest controversy.

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    Some women may have waited almost a year now for a result from their cervical check screening.

    That's according to Fianna Fáil's health spokesman, Stephen Donnelly.

    The HSE says 800 women haven't received the test-results because of an IT problem at a US lab.

    It mainly involves women who were sent for rechecks between last October and June 25th of this year.

    The HSE has apologised, but Deputy Donnelly says that's not good enough.

     

  • The Taoiseach says he's disgusted that some details of a report into the cervical cancer controversy have leaked.

    It's reported Dr Gabriel Scally doesn't believe a full commission of inquiry into the scandal is needed.

    A meeting with some of those affected has now been brought forward to this evening as a result of the leaks.

    Vicky Phelan has taken to Twitter to call it a 'whitewash'.

    Leo Varadkar says he's appalled some reporters saw the details before those affected.

  • The Health Minister says he hopes an inquiry into the Cervical Check controversy will get to the bottom of what happened.

    Simon Harris says it will be led by a UK based medical expert and a gynaecologist - and is expected to begin as soon as today.

    Mr Harris says he briefed Vicky Phelan on the issue last night and is hoping the inquiry will be done by June.

    Minister Harris says it's important people get answers to the questions being asked right across the country.

  • The U.S labs contracted to carry out the cervical check screening have threatened to quit Ireland - placing the The CervicalCheck scheme into doubt.

    The issue centres on a row with the state over compensation for medical negligence according to the Sunday Business Post.

    The current contract expires in October, and under its terms the labs accept liability for any medical negligence costs incurred under the scheme.

    They now want the Irish tax-payer to underwrite those costs - a move which has given rise to fears within the HSE that the service could collapse.

    The paper says the health service is working on a contingency plan, however the ongoing controversy over the cervical programme here has made it difficult to bring other overseas labs on board.

  • All the women directly affected by the CervicalCheck scandal will get a 2,000 euro ex-gratia payment from the government.

    It's one of the recommendations of a progress report by Dr Gabriel Scally, who's leading the investigation into what happened at CervicalCheck.

    Dr Scally made 6 recommendations in his report to the Cabinet this morning.

    One is a 2,000 euro payment to the 209 women affected by Cervical Check or their families, so they don't incur any costs while the investigations are carried out.

    It's understood at least two Mayo women are among the 209 who were given false smear test results.

    Other recommendations include making sure women have full access to the records of their smear checks; and - in the event of a problem  -that open disclosure would take place quickly and accurately.

    The Scally Inquiry was due to conclude by the end of June but will now take until the end of the summer.