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Sunday 16 June 2019

BowelScreen made secret compensation payout to cancer patient

Learning: HSE executive Stephanie O’Keeffe
Learning: HSE executive Stephanie O’Keeffe
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A secret compensation payout has already been made by the BowelScreen service arising out of a failed investigation procedure, it was learned yesterday.

BowelScreen, which started in 2012, is the newest of the cancer screening programmes and aims to find bowel cancer at an early stage in people who have no symptoms in the 60-69 age group.

The compensation settlement, which has a confidentiality agreement, arose out of a failure to detect cancer through a colonoscopy, where checks are made in the large bowel with a flexible tube-like instrument and a camera.

It is understood the confidentiality was requested by the patient who was receiving on-going treatment.

A number of further claims against BowelScreen have been taken by people affected by cases of misdiagnosis involving colonoscopies carried out at Wexford General Hospital.

Earlier this year, an external review revealed that 13 bowel cancers were missed at Wexford Hospital and despite repeated alerts by a member of staff, there was no action to recall patients who were wrongly given the all clear for a year.

In January 2017, it emerged that a review of 615 cases and a recall of patients found 13 probable cancers were missed by the one doctor. It later emerged that one patient died before the review, covering the period March 2013 to November 2014.

The doctor who carried out the colonoscopies went on leave in 2015.

The cancers were probably missed during the original test. A recall involved 615 patients at Wexford General Hospital in 2013 and 2014. Six of the patients were from Wexford, and seven from Carlow-Kilkenny.

Budget constraints hampered regular performance audits by BowelScreen.

In response to the external review earlier this year, Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, HSE national director for health and wellbeing, said it acknowledged the seriousness in January 2017 and "we wanted to learn from this incident".

Meanwhile, a preliminary report on the CervicalCheck scandal is due this week. The report is to be given to Health Minister Simon Harris.

It will detail the initial impressions of Dr Gabriel Scally, the former NHS public health doctor who has been probing the background to the scandal.

It led to most of the 209 women who developed cancer, and the families of those who died, not being told an internal audit by CervicalCheck confirmed a mistake was made in reading their smear test. A fuller inquiry report will be produced by Dr Scally at the end of the month.

The HSE said one of the affected women still cannot be traced.

Following criticism about the slow roll out of promised supports for victims of the scandal, the HSE said it has appointed dedicated liaison officers who have now contacted the vast majority of the women again to offer them a range of supports.

"This process is ongoing and is being co-ordinated with the relevant acute hospitals. The process will continue to be rolled out to all women directly affected," it said.

Irish Independent

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