HSE confirms 18 women affected by Cervical Check controversy have died

The Cabinet is meeting this morning to discuss setting up a new board to oversee the HSE

HSE confirms 18 women affected by Cervical Check controversy have died

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Updated 11.20am

18 women affected by the Cervical Check controversy have now died, the HSE has confirmed.

It had previously been confirmed that 17 women who were part of an audit of the screening programme had died.

A total of 209 women have been 'directly affected' by the controversy, with the audit having found that their screening test could have provided a different result and recommended earlier follow-up.

The HSE says it has now made contact with 203 women or their families.

In an update yesterday evening, the organisation said: "Most women have at this stage been contacted and meetings either held or arranged to discuss the audit and the response with them.

"18 of the 209 women are deceased and where this is the case their family/next of kin are being contacted."

The Government last week announced a range of supports for the women affected - including providing discretionary medical cards, provision of counselling and covering the cost of drugs including experimental treatments.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet is meeting this morning to discuss setting up a new board to oversee the HSE.

Health Minister Simon Harris says it is part of measures to ensure there is accountability within the organisation.

The previous HSE board was abolished in 2011.

The fallout from the Cervical Check controversy has seen HSE Director General Tony O'Brien step down, while a 'scoping inquiry' has also been launched to investigate the situation.

If legislation is passed by the summer, the proposed new HSE board may oversee the appointment of Mr O'Brien's successor.

Minister Harris said: "The memo that we'll bring to Government today will seek permission to legislate for a new HSE board.

"This is a board that we want to be skills-based - we want to be able to attract the best and the brightest to provide oversight and accountability within the health service."

He added: "With the support of opposition parties, I hope we can pass this legislation quickly, and try to put this board in place in the coming months."