Senior medical team sent to take charge of Cervical Check programme

A helpline has also been set up to help people affected

Senior medical team sent to take charge of Cervical Check programme

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health Simon Harris speaking to the media regarding the Cervical Check crisis | Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Department of Health has confirmed that a senior medical team has been sent into Cervical Check to take charge of the programme.

A spokesperson says any woman who may have not been told that her case has been audited has been informed, or will be informed after the weekend.

A helpline number has also been launched which will be operational from 9.00am Saturday on 1800-45-45-55.

It comes after Health Minister Simon Harris said he currently cannot have confidence in the managers of the screening programme.

It is amid revelations that more than 200 reviews of tests suggested women with cervical cancer should have received 'earlier intervention'.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he thinks most of the affected patients have since been informed, adding that they are investigating that and have written to doctors.

"In terms of individual personnel, like I say, the minister has initiated a review - I don't want to be condemning any individual at this stage without knowing the facts.

"But we are going to make sure we establish the facts of this affair - and we want to make sure as well, as a Government, that something good comes of this".

Vicky Phelan outside court | Image: Frank Greaney

Minister Harris was asked by reporters earlier if he has confidence in the managers of Cervical Check.

He responded: "I have full confidence in the screening programme. I think that's important to say.

"It's so important that people use the screening programme: it saves lives, it has detected cancers, and it has helped reduce the rate of cervical cancer.

"Truthfully, in answer to your question, I can't say that I do currently... and that's why I have ordered a review."

The latest figures were released after Vicky Phelan's case this week highlighted the issue.

She settled a case against a US lab on Wednesday, after being wrongly informed in 2011 that she had the all clear.