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Serious questions in Cervical Check crisis require immediate answers

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has said that serious questions remain following today’s cabinet meeting on the Cervical Check crisis and that the public should not have to wait until the outcome of a formal investigation to get answers.

Deputy Shortall also called on the government to expedite legislation to allow for a statutory duty of candour ahead of the summer Dáil recess and for the government to introduce HPV testing to replace current smear tests earlier than next September, as is currently planned.

Deputy Shortall said:

“It’s more than two weeks since the Cervical Check crisis broke and yet the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health say they were not aware until yesterday about the HSE memos that were released to the Public Accounts Committee. This is despite the fact that these memos had been brought to the attention of the department’s Chief Medical Officer and others in the health service.”

Deputy Shortall said further information was needed on the following issues immediately:

  • Why were the HSE memos released to PAC yesterday not brought to the attention of the Minister for Health and the Taoiseach when this crisis broke? Both the Chief Medical Officer and the Secretary General of the Department of Health have been closely involved in this issue and yet did not apparently raise these.
  • When will further details be made available in relation to the false negative smear tests results given to 209 women identified by Cervical Check? Specifically, what proportion of these were mistaken false negatives and what proportion were so called ‘innocent’ false negatives which fall within the margin of error in such tests?
  • In relation to the redress scheme what are the terms of the State’s contracts with the US labs in terms of indemnity agreements?
  • What was Cervical Check’s internal strategy with hospital consultants in relation to the undue delay in informing women of their audit results?
  • What is the status of the other approximately 1,600 women with cancer who had not been included in the Cervical Check audit. How many of these women have been contacted and for those who had false negatives are their smears going to be audited also?