Friday 20 September 2019

Four women at centre of crisis did not have cervical cancer

Query: Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers lodged a question on the scandal. Photo: Tom Burke
Query: Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers lodged a question on the scandal. Photo: Tom Burke
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Four women at the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal did not have cervical cancer, it has emerged.

Two of the women had other forms of cancer and another two did not have the disease.

The response to questions from Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers emerged as it was revealed a world-wide search is under way to find a laboratory to read the backlog of approximately 80,000 smear tests from Irish women.

Women are waiting up to five months for results to be returned.

The HSE said last night it would be inappropriate to disclose what other forms of cancer the two women had.

Most of the 221 women at the centre of the scandal developed cervical cancer after getting a wrong smear test result.

Audits showing they had wrong test results had not been passed on to a majority, it emerged this summer.

Damien McCallion, acting head of CervicalCheck, told the Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday just a third of the 221 women have agreed to provide their slides to a wider review being carried out by an external group.

As a result, one of the HSE's own healthcare team will now undertake a review aimed at giving more information about their test results and cancer.

He said CervicalCheck is also hoping to secure a cytopathologist from overseas to look at the results produced by labs commissioned by CervicalCheck since 2008.

A backlog of tests has now built up and it is trying to get more laboratories abroad to take on the work.

Asked about the delay in providing slides to women who are taking legal cases, he said he has written to the labs to say they must be turned around in 10 days.

However, solicitor Cian O'Carroll said most of his clients have had their slides and some of their medical records withheld. This is known to CervicalCheck.

Many women have been looking for their slides since April or May, he added.

He assumed this was by design to delay progress of legal proceedings.

Irish Independent

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