Friday 23 August 2019

Review of the CervicalCheck test-delay crisis branded 'a joke'


Heading the panel: Brian MacCraith will chair the review. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Heading the panel: Brian MacCraith will chair the review. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The promised "independent" review into the latest CervicalCheck crisis, involving delayed screening test results for hundreds of women, has been branded "disappointing" and a "joke".

The HSE yesterday announced that DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith would chair the rapid review, but there was dismay that he is the only external person involved and that it will be a senior team in the HSE itself that will report to him.

It follows claims of a "computer glitch" and a delay of up to nine months in giving results to women whose tests were sent to Quest Diagnostic's lab in Chantilly, Virginia.

'Sharon', the woman whose perseverance uncovered the delays, said she was disappointed that the review will be supported by an internal HSE team.

She also said it was unclear who would be interviewed.

Labour TD Alan Kelly said it was a "joke" that the "HSE are servicing this review". It means the "HSE is essentially investigating themselves, this should not be the case".

He said it should involve Sharon as well as the other women involved who should be "front and centre".

And Stephen McMahon, of the Irish Patients Association, said: "The review is not independent, it is made up of people who may or should be reviewed themselves."

There is no reference to a clinical assessment of the 800 women to determine if anyone had been affected by the delay, he added.

HSE chief Paul Reid said he expected the review to be completed in a number of weeks.

Areas to be covered include the chronology of events from the time the IT issues first emerged in February up to the public reporting of these issues in July.

It will also look at the process for the communication of results to women and their GPs, how this was planned and managed and how it worked in practice.

The terms of reference also include an examination of the adequacy of the response put in place once these issues emerged and to determine where and what the learning is for the management and communication processes within and from the screening programmes.

The HSE has claimed that when it found out about the computer problems in the lab in February it believed the letters were being sent out manually. It emerged this week this did not happen.

Health Minister Simon Harris said yesterday he found out about the problem only last Wednesday. All of the women and their GPs were now being communicated with, he added.

The HSE was unable to say yesterday what progress had been made in contacting the women and their GPs.

The HSE also did not respond when asked who the other women, outside of the 800 group, who are believed to have been affected by the results delay are.

Quest Diagnostics, which runs the laboratory, now carries out around 90pc of the testing for CervicalCheck.

The lab in Chantilly was one of the centres visited by inspectors from the HSE earlier this year when it was carrying out checks to determine how safe it was.

It is among a number of additional labs which are being paid by CervicalCheck to reduce its tests backlog which rose to 80,000.

Irish Independent

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