CervicalCheck campaigner pulls story from smear test report

CervicalCheck campaigner pulls story from smear test report
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The woman who helped expose test result delays in the CervicalCheck programme due to an IT glitch is withdrawing her contribution to the Independent Rapid Review report published last year.

Sharon Butler Hughes, from Stepaside, Dublin, said she wrote to the HSE about the matter and is exploring legal options.

She said she is unhappy over a conflict between her and the Department of Health that arose as a result of the IT issue with smear test results.

Ms Butler Hughes’ story is included in the rapid review report, which was published last August.

Ms Butler Hughes, who was diagnosed with precancerous cells more than a decade ago, went for screening towards the end of 2018.

When she did not receive her test result, the Dublin woman made a series of phone calls to CervicalCheck and the Department of Health between March and June last year.

Eventually, it was discovered that an IT glitch at the Quest Chantilly lab in the US was the reason for the delay.

The discovery led to a rapid review into the matter which found that 4,088 women were impacted.

Almost 900 women who had undergone a repeat test received no results for more than six months. In other cases, women who underwent testing were not informed of their results while their GPs were.

Ms Butler Hughes’ persistence in the matter led to the review and the discovery that thousands of women had been affected.

However, there was a disagreement between Ms Butler Hughes and the department over the timeline of events and when Health Minister Simon Harris knew of the issue with delayed smear test results.

After months of seeking meetings with the minister, Ms Butler Hughes said she feels she was left with no choice but to withdraw her contribution from the MacCraith report: “This is not a decision I have made lightly but I feel I have been left with no choice."

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