Tuesday 16 July 2019

CervicalCheck inquiry to probe how Irish women's tests ended up in Hawaii and Las Vegas labs

Dr Gabriel Scally Photo: Frank McGrath
Dr Gabriel Scally Photo: Frank McGrath

Eilish O’Regan

The second stage of the CervicalCheck scandal inquiry has been given the go ahead and will investigate how tests of thousands of Irish women ended up in labs in Hawaii and Las Vegas unknown to the Irish health service.

The slides of women who had gone for cervical screening in Ireland were sent to a Texas lab CPL as part of outsourcing. But some were sent from Texas to other locations without apparently telling CervicalCheck.

Dr Gabriel Scally who completed a scoping inquiry last month is to visit these other labs to investigate what kind of quality assurance was applied.

Health Minister Simon Harris announced today that he had signed off on the new terms of reference for the next stage of the investigation.

The CervicalCheck scandal led to a majority of 221 women who had developed cervical cancer, including the relatives of the deceased, only finding out in recent months that an internal audit found they got the wrong test result.

It is unclear how many of these incorrect results were due to negligence or the limitations of the test.

Dr Scally will look at the nature, ownership, extent of activity, quality and accreditation arrangements, governance structures, and other relevant matters regarding the other labs.

He will examine the circumstances which led to these laboratories undertaking work for CervicalCheck and the extent to which the screening service in Ireland was aware of and approved the transfer.

The inquiry will also examine the different forms of accreditation between labs in Ireland and the United States.

He is free to “incorporate further relevant elements if identified during the course of the supplementary analysis."

Dr Scally is to report back to Mr Harris.

Parts of the last report of Dr Scally were leaked before its publication, causing deep distress to victims.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he has appointed an official to investigate who was responsible for the breach but there is increasing impatience at the length of time it is taking to carry out a simple inquiry into a report submitted in early September.

His officials have refused to say who has been interviewed and if the “leaker” will be named and sanctioned.

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