Taoiseach confirms inquiry into the Cervical Check scandal

The HSE says It says it will engage with all women awaiting contact

Taoiseach confirms inquiry into the Cervical Check scandal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at Dundalk Institute of Technology | Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

UPDATE : 14.45 

17 women who were part of a review of the Cervical Check programme have died.

The HSE says that their causes of death are not known at present.

175 out of 208 women with cancer would have benefited from earlier treatment, while 162 that were part of a look-back were not told about the review or its outcome.

The HSE has received 6000 calls on a helpline across the weekend and today.

Patrick Lynch from the HSE says 175 women were wrongly given the all-clear.

"Of the 208 there were 175 where the interpretation did differ but which in their view would have also led to a different clinical escalation of their care in particular, colposcopy."


Update 10.55 

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says there will be an inquiry into the Cervical Check scandal.

It comes after it was revealed that around half of the 206 women who may have had a delayed misdiagnosis were not told about it by their doctors.

A number of those women have since died, but it is not known if their deaths were because of a delayed diagnosis.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) says the audit of 206 cervical check results is nearing completion.

It says it will engage with all women still awaiting contact over the audit and they will be offered appointments to discuss the findings.

Mr Varadkar says there are some serious questions to be answered.

"There will be an inquiry and we're discussing across the day the details of how that inquiry will operate.

"But that inquiry will establish the facts, and we need to do that.

"it'll also try to understand why these appalling communication failures happened - and also it'll look at the laboratory testing, and whether a different form of testing might have reduced the the number of false negatives".

Meanwhile, the HSE Serious Incident Management Team says a series of call-backs is now underway - after more than 2,000 calls to its emergency helpline at the weekend.

It was set up over the weekend for women with concerns about their smear test results, after the case of Vicky Phelan who was incorrectly given the all-clear.

The line will open between 9.00am and 6.00pm.

The helpline is available on 1800-45-45-55.

The chairman of the National Association of General Practitioners, Dr Andrew Jordan, is urging women to continue to believe in the cervical check system.

"We're carrying out roughly 250,000 smears per annum, we're after reducing the incidents of cervical cancer by 7%.

"The other thing is that it's important not to forget (the) HPV vaccination programme here.

"One thing is the cervical check, but the HPV vaccine: it has the potential to wipe out cervical cancer".