Call for HSE answers after 800 smear results not issued

The HSE has been urged to clarify if there are any clinical implications for the 800 women who did not receive smear test results as a result of an IT glitch.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said the HSE must also explain “why it did not inform the Department of Health there was a problem with the issuing of 800 CervicalCheck screening results to women”.

The department said last night that the HSE advised it on Wednesday that it became aware of the problem in June.

The HSE said: “The existence of an IT issue was identified following engagement with the Department of Health in relation to representations from a woman using our services.”

RTÉ reported that the woman had raised concerns about delays in getting her test results.

The HSE, which described the cock-up as “a limited incident”, said the problem involved a Quest Diagnostics laboratory in Chantilly, Virginia, where the IT system needed an “update” in order for it to transmit results to CervicalCheck’s screening register.

The HSE said once results are transferred to the register, the woman’s GP receives electronic notification and the woman in turn is notified by letter.

Because the “update” was overlooked, the test results did not issue to GPs.

The HSE said:

As a result of slower than expected implementation of this update, approximately 800 results letters were not issued to women.

The HSE said results are currently being issued manually to GPs, and Quest has said all necessary updates will be finalised in the next fortnight.

RTÉ reported that the delayed tests were primarily repeat HPV tests, being done because previous tests were carried out by Quest outside of the recommended time frame, and that the tests in question were carried out between October 1, 2018, and June 25 this year.

Frances McNamara, head of the National Screening Service, said they had written to women on July 1 advising them to contact their GPs. The HSE said some GPs and practice nurses “have also reported in recent days that they have not received result reports”.

Lorraine Walsh, a patient representative on the CervicalCheck steering committee, said she was “seriously beginning to doubt the whole system”.

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