Friday 20 September 2019

Eight women still unaware that smear tests were inaccurate

HSE boss tells TD: ‘I respectfully decline your invitation to resign’

Tony O'Brien Director General of the Health Service Executive. Photo: PA Wire
Tony O'Brien Director General of the Health Service Executive. Photo: PA Wire
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

ALMOST two weeks after the CervicalCheck scandal broke eight women have yet to be told that the early signs of cancer were missed in smear tests.

HSE officials have confirmed today that they have contacted 201 women directly affected – but have not been able to track eight.

Dean Sullivan, HSE Deputy Director General, said the women are believed to be either travelling or living abroad.

“All 201 women or their families have been offered a meeting at the earliest opportunity with their doctor at a time that is suitable and convenient to them,” he said.

He also revealed that to date 11,982 women have called the line. Of these, 8,150 women have requested a call back, and of these 3,649 calls have been returned.

“Return calls to women have been made throughout the weekend and will continue through this week, with support from staff in health facilities around the country,” he said.

The HSE’s embattled Director General Tony O’Brien attended the Oireachtas Health Committee, having initially indicated he would not.

Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly put it to him that he should resign over the cancer scandal “without prejudice”.

“I take no joy in the call and I’m very conscious that you’ve given many years of public service to healthcare,” he said.

Mr O’Brien admitted that there are “significant issues” but added that he was not informed of the impending scandal before it broke in the media.

“I respectfully decline your invitation to resign,” he said.

Health Minister Simon Harris told the same meeting that there is a “long road to travel to restore public confidence”.

He promised major change in the way the health serivce operates, saying: ““The HSE has become to big too fail and too big to succeed.”

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