Scoping Inquiry into Cervical Check controversy is set up

It is also looking at the tendering and operation of the labs used

Scoping Inquiry into Cervical Check controversy is set up

Minister for Health Simon Harris at Our Lady's Hospice Care Services, Harold's Cross | Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated: 15.30

An inquiry into the Cervical Check scandal will begin its work today, after ministers signed off on it at Cabinet.

The Scoping Inquiry will be led by Dr Gabriel Scally from the Royal Society of Medicine in the UK.

Dr Scally has also asked an expert in women's health, Dr Karin Denton - Consultant in Cellular Pathology at North Bristol NHS Trust - to assist in the review.

It will look at why 209 women were not told about their incorrect smear results.

Health Minister Simon Harris brought the terms of reference for the investigation to Cabinet for approval.

It will investigate the non-disclosure to patients of the Cervical Check smear test audits, management of the scheme, and will try to establish who knew what in the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health.

It will also look at the tendering and operation of the labs used by Cervical Check to examine smear tests.

Dr Scally is due to report his findings to the Health Minister by the end of June.

Minister Harris says it is a lot to examine in a short time frame.

"While they're very ambitious terms of reference and very comprehensive, because they do have cross-party input, Dr Scally's job  and Dr Denton's will be to answer as many as possible, to provide as much facts as possible.

"So when Government and the Oireachtas considers this issue again at the end of June, we can say 'well look: these questions have already been satisfactorily answered, we have the information (on) this, we don't have the information (on) this and can have I suppose therefore a more focused commission of investigation".

He added: "I would like to acknowledge again the tireless efforts of Vicky Phelan. I have briefed her on these developments and I understand that Dr Scally has already spoken with her and will meet with her shortly." 

"Really important questions"

Speaking earlier before Cabinet on Tuesday, Minister Harris said: "We don't need a situation now where some process is set up that will go on and on and on for months and months and even longer.

"We need to try and get answers to really important questions that women right across the country are asking today.

"Questions about: can I be sure I'm going to get my health records, what went wrong here, how can you give me confidence back in this really important screening service and what about the labs we're using".

 Additional reporting: Paul Quinn