Wednesday 21 August 2019

€1m paid to Scally and CervicalCheck inquiry expert team

Inquiry: Dr Gabriel Scally has led a 14-month inquiry into the scandal. Photo: Tony Gavin
Inquiry: Dr Gabriel Scally has led a 14-month inquiry into the scandal. Photo: Tony Gavin
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Dr Gabriel Scally and the team that carried out an inquiry into the CervicalCheck debacle have been paid more than €1m to date.

The Department of Health confirmed just over €1m, including VAT, was paid to Dr Scally and his six-strong team of medical and legal experts for their 14-month inquiry into the troubled HSE screening programme.

The figure was confirmed in a letter from department secretary-general Jim Breslin to Labour TD Alan Kelly.

Dr Scally was appointed to carry out a scoping inquiry into the CervicalCheck screening programme in May 2018 after it emerged a number of women diagnosed with cancer had their original cervical smears misread by labs.

The failure by doctors to inform some of these women that their smear slides had been misread caused a massive public controversy last year. A number of women, including Vicky Phelan and the late Emma Mhic Mhathúna, waived their right to confidentiality to discuss their harrowing cases.

Dr Scally and his team were asked to investigate details of the non-disclosure of information from CervicalCheck audits to patients as well as the circumstances surrounding the commissioning of overseas labs to read smear tests after the controversy first emerged in April 2018.

Dr Scally's first report in September of last year identified significant failings in the governance structures of the screening programme which he said meant it was "doomed to fail".

The initial report also identified the biggest failing as being the failure to disclose information about the CervicalCheck audits to the affected women.

He said language used by some doctors in communicating with the affected women was "verging on misogyny".

In a further report last March, Dr Scally expressed concern at the "deeply flawed" open disclosure policy and described the HSE's plan to implement the 50 recommendations from his first report as "overly ambitious".

In a supplementary report published in May, Mr Scally raised concerns about the outsourcing of the reading of smear tests to labs outside of the State.

His report disclosed that smear tests from Ireland were sent to 16 different laboratories, including one which received retrospective accreditation.

Separately, HSE has confirmed €320,000 in ex-gratia payments were made to women affected by the controversy, with 160 women each receiving €2,000 to assist them in interacting with the Scally inquiry.

CervicalCheck was subject to further controversy last month when it emerged some 800 women were not issued with their smear test results. The HSE blamed an IT issue with one of the labs and ordered a rapid review that will be published today.

Irish Independent

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