Monday 16 September 2019

Women diagnosed with cancer six years before results checked

Contacted: Catherine Murphy
Contacted: Catherine Murphy
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Some of the women at the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal had been diagnosed with cancer more than six years before their test results were re-examined.

In other cases the audit took place a month after a woman's diagnosis with cervical cancer.

The audit involved re-checking the previous slides of women diagnosed with cancer to find out how accurate the result was.

The background to the criteria used by CervicalCheck to audit the test results of the 221 women, including 20 who have died, who were caught up in the scandal remains confusing .

Audits - which were only released to a majority of the 221 women this summer - showed they got a wrong test result.

Dr Gabriel Scally who conducted an inquiry into CervicalCheck believed the cut-off point was 18 months and that no woman who had been diagnosed before that timeline was included. But that has now been clarified by the HSE.

A spokesman said: "The slides identified for further review were reviewed from a minimum of one month prior to diagnosis to up to 78 months prior to diagnosis."


Meanwhile, the HSE has also clarified that a new review of the clinical status of the 221 women will not be an audit.

The Oireachtas health committee was told this week that just 32pc of the 221 group of women consented to a wider external review of their slides so he HSE needed to do "something for them."

A spokeswoman said however it was not an audit but "a validation exercise" to ensure its information on the 221 group is up to date.

The purpose is to ensure the most up to date information is available with respect to the women impacted, she said.

This will, for example, help with planning support needs for patients.

The validation exercise will be carried out by suitably qualified HSE staff

"This exercise involves data already in the possession of the National Screening Service and for which the necessary consents have been obtained.

"We are obliged to ensure that such information is kept up to date, this the validation exercise is necessary. "

It comes as the scandal is set to return to the courts as High Court action is launched to secure access to slides and other records for women who are taking legal action against CervicalCheck.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she was contacted by several women who are enduring long delays in getting their medical records from the HSE.


"These are people living in fear; some in the midst of the most aggressive forms of cancer treatments and some still dealing with the side-effects of those treatments.

These are not people who should have to battle for anything else right now. Their health battle is more than enough for them to have to deal with.

"The Taoiseach stood in the Dáil and in reply to me agreed with me that there should be no further delays for these women. Previous to that the Taoiseach told this house that no women should have to go to court."

But now there will be a High Court appeal to force the release of slides.

Irish Independent

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