Varadkar "very dissatisfied" smear test review has not started

The number of women affected by the Cervical Check scandal has risen to 221

Varadkar "very dissatisfied" smear test review has not started

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Leah Farrell/ RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is "very dissatisfied" work has not begun to analyse more than 3,000 smear tests in the wake of the Cervical Check scandal.

The review was due to begin in May and was expected to help form part of the Scally Inquiry into what happened.

 The number of women directly affected by the scandal has risen to 221.

That is 12 more than originally thought, according to the acting head of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Health officials appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) earlier to update TDs over the Cervical Check controversy. 

They also confirmed an independent review of more than 3,000 smear tests has yet to begin.

Tracey Conroy from the Department of Health said the review will not be completed in time to help Dr Gabriel Scally's ongoing inquiry into what happened at Cervical Check.

She explained: "It was never intended that the [Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] review would be completed in advance of the Scally review.

"It was clear from the outset actually in terms of the engagement with RCOG that, given the complexities of the review... the kinds of of timeframe that RCOG were talking about was around four to six months."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar | File photo

The Taoiseach has said he hopes the pace of the investigation can be quickened.

"I'm very dissatisfied of the fact that the actual review of the slides hasn't started yet.

"Work has begun through - the terms of reference had been agreed and the preliminary work is being done."

"But certainly we had thought back in May that this was a job that could be done more quickly - but we now understand it's going to take a bit longer.

"But we're obviously going to do everything we can as a Government to make sure that that work is done as soon as possible".

Meanwhile, the Health Minister Simon Harris is to bring the general scheme of the Patient Safety Bill to Cabinet.

The bill will be aiming to ensure that anyone affected by a problem with their treatment is told about it.

The proposed law would make reporting of mistakes mandatory.

It follows the Cervical Check scandal, where women were not told about the clinical audit of their cancer tests.

Reporting by Sean Defoe, Stephen McNeice and Jack Quann