Tuesday 17 September 2019

Seven given wrong results still not contacted as efforts continue to trace woman living in Russia

Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna
Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna

Eilish O'Regan and Cormac McQuinn

EFFORTS are ongoing to trace a woman who is living in Russia who developed cervical cancer after getting an incorrect smear test result from CervicalCheck, it has emerged.

The woman is being traced by the Russian Embassy, HSE officials revealed.

It is now nearly two weeks since it emerged that 209 women, who were wrongly given all-clear test results, were the subject of internal CervicalCheck reviews.

Seventeen women have died and their next of kin are now being traced. As of yesterday face-to-face contact still had to be made with seven of the women or relatives.

HSE director Damien McCallion, now installed to oversee the running of the screening service, said he did not know how many women received a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

“One lady is in Russia and we’re trying to work through the Russian Embassy to make contact with her. And there are three people who had multiple hospitals involved and we’re trying to close those out.”

Most women have been contacted and meetings have been held or arranged to discuss the audit and response, said the HSE.

Meanwhile, CervicalCheck said yesterday more than 3,500 women who contacted the helpline still need a callback.

So far it has returned 5,678 calls “and every effort is being made to ensure that contact is made as quickly as possible with all those who requested a callback”.

The HSE is also working to secure the names and details of around 1,500 other women who developed cervical cancer in the past decade who were registered with the National Cancer Registry but not subject to review by CervicalCheck.

Meanwhile, the organisation representing Irish staff involved in the reading of smear tests said yesterday that when Irish labs tendered to do the CervicalCheck work in 2008 they scored highly in all areas except cost.

The work went to Quest Diagnostics in Texas. Half the smears are now read in the United States and the rest in Dublin labs.

The Academy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine, which represents lab staff in Ireland, said it recommends that when HPV testing of smear tests is introduced here in the autumn the entire work be carried out in this country.

The service should be led by consultant medical scientists and pathologists.

This is already happening in the cervical screening service in the UK, it added

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