Government grilled over CervicalCheck controversy after Limerick woman's battle

Minister for Health Simon Harris

Minister for Health Simon Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris revealed that that a "potentially considerable number of cases" where women developed cancer were not subjected to an audit.

Patrick Lynch from the HSE says a number of the 208 women could have benefited from earlier intervention. The figures came to light after terminally-ill mother Vicky Phelan settled her case.

The cause of death of those 17 women is not yet known.

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris were grilled in Dail Eireann this Tuesday over the HSE's blunder in the controversial CervicalCheck audit, which failed to inform 162 women that a review of smear tests was taking place.

Mr. O'Carroll, the lawyer for Ms. Phelan, said that the Health Service Executive, the Irish government body that oversees the screening program, and CPL, which were joint defendants in her case, had pursued a prolonged and aggressive defense, demanding that she prove she had suffered actual loss from the delayed diagnosis, and making her spend three days in court before they settled.

Vicky Phelan, who has been told she only has months to live, was awarded €2.5m in the High Court last week.

It means some 162 women did not know there might be a problem with their cancer check.

He also said he is bringing patient safety legislation to Cabinet next week.

The HSE has said that 17 women who were affected by the CervicalCheck controversy have died.

O'Brien was head of the National Cancer Screening Programme when smear test analysis were outsourced to the United States in 2008. So this memo, either people didn't know the extent of it, and I find that hard to believe or they just thought this was going to go away, to be honest, and that I wasn't going to preoceed.

Mr Harris said he is now moving towards establishing a commission of investigation to uncover the extent of this controversy. "But her courage and tenacity has done a great service to the women of Ireland and her actions will ultimately lead to improvements for all", he said.

Focus is now turning to the women affected by the screening controversy and what will happen next.

The issue has raised significant concern regarding the screening tests for cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach says he will not fire HSE boss Tony O'Brien after the CervicalCheck scandal.

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