Friday 14 December 2018

Almost 60pc of the women seeking their test records have still not received them

Vicky Phelan was awarded €2.5m in a High Court action. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Vicky Phelan was awarded €2.5m in a High Court action. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Almost 60pc of women affected by the cervical screening scandal who have sought their smear test records for independent examination have yet to receive them.

The HSE has told TDs that of the 120 women who have made requests for records, including smear test slides, 70 are still waiting for their records.

The admission came amid claims there have been delays of several weeks in providing the slides to seriously ill women considering legal claims.

Labour TD Alan Kelly told HSE bosses appearing at the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC): "These women are entitled to their information - just bloody well give it to them."

The controversy over the CervicalCheck service began when mother-of-two Vicky Phelan was awarded €2.5m in a High Court settlement with a US lab over an incorrect smear test result.

Mr Kelly said he understood a legal firm had been hired to draft a protocol for how cytology slides were to be handed over for independent testing and this was causing delays.

The acting clinical director of CervicalCheck Dr Peter McKenna said he agreed that women were entitled to their records and promised to provide details of the situation later.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy challenged interim HSE director general John Connaghan on the issue, saying she felt the committee was "getting the runaround".

Mr Connaghan provided figures later in the meeting and claimed requests for records were being fulfilled within the "appropriate time-scale".

He said this had happened in 50 cases already and would be done in the remaining 70, adding: "I'm not aware of any delay."

Last night, the HSE outlined a range of different methods patients had been using to seek to access records from CervicalCheck and different lengths of time, from three days to 20 working days, for how long it takes. It insisted these deadlines were being met "despite the surge in record request volumes".

Ms Murphy said what the PAC was being told was the "polar opposite" to reports from the women affected.

The PAC was told the number of women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer after earlier smear tests were read incorrectly now stands at 221. It heard there are now 35 active legal claims being dealt with.

In addition, three cases have also been settled and there are two additional potential cases.

Meanwhile, it was revealed a review of around 3,000 cervical smear test slides which had been due to finish at the end of May has still not begun.

Irish Independent

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