CervicalCheck scoping inquiry gets HSE files 'in a searchable format'

The head of the scoping inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme, Dr Gabriel Scally, has said that it looks like the HSE have given him access to files "in a searchable format".

Yesterday, one of the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal said that she had spoken to Dr Scally, who said he is still waiting on 2,000 files

Vicky Phelan, who exposed the scandal, also revealed that everything is going through the lawyers and the files are "heavily redacted".

However, today Dr Scally said he has got documentation from the HSE with the redactions removed.

Dr Gabriel Scally

Dr Scally said: "As of today, it appears we now have access to documentation being provided to us by the HSE in a searchable format and with all redactions, apart from those relating to patient confidentiality, removed.

"We are now checking this for completeness.

"This is very welcome progress and will assist us in moving forward with our inquiry in a more time efficient manner.

"I would like to acknowledge the co-operation of all the HSE staff who have assisted in making this information available."

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Ms Phelan said the Government has been making promise after promise to the victims – but has failed to deliver.

“There is nothing happening,” she said.

“My case broke at the end of April and we are now at the middle of July practically and we are still nowhere nearer knowing what caused the failures in our screening programme.

“We have the same labs with the same contracts that are still checking women’s slides today – yet nothing has been done to check or inspect on the quality of these.”

She said the continuing delays are continuing to undermine confidence in the screening programme.

“All of these delays mean that people are starting to wonder – myself included – what are they trying to cover up at this stage that they can’t seem to meet these deadlines and everything seems to be pushed back out?”

“Everything is being put through lawyers.

“They have a whole legal team in there looking at everything before they will pass it on to [Dr Gabriel Scally], before they will pass on the files to the women who are looking for them to take their court cases.

“Everything is heavily redacted that Gabriel is getting.

“What are they trying to hide at this stage? That is my question.”

Ms Phelan said she is worried that the review of the 3,000 smear tests is going to uncover more patients who were given false readings.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the number of cases involved in the CervicalCheck scandal has risen by 12 from 209 to 221.

Also, the Department of Health confirmed that an independent review of more than 3,000 smear tests, which was due to be finished by May, has not been started yet.

Today, Ms Phelan said: "My worry is that we are going to see that there is going to be more women who were not included in the original sample."

Noting that she had a couple of months to "get her head" around her situation before her case broke in the media, she offered her sympathies to those who have only discovered they were involved in recent weeks.

“The poor unfortunate women who have found out since my case have really been thrown into this while it has been in the media,” she said.

“It is very difficult because it affected your level of trust in the care that you are getting because you wonder, ‘why was it hidden from me?’

“Why did nobody decide that it was important enough to tell me?"

She said there is a support group available for everyone caught up in the scandal.

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