Latest: HSE Serious Incident Management Team contacts 196 women affected by Cervical Check controversy

Update 8.50pm: The HSE Serious Incident Management Team has contacted 196 women affected by the Cervical Check controversy.

In a statement tonight it says as some women are out of the country, or not contactable, it will update this record of contacts after Tuesday.

It says its call team remain extremely busy, and its priority is women with specific clinical queries or a history of cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin will bring a motion of no confidence in the HSE boss next week.

The party's health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly says the government can not back Tony O'Brien (below) to stay in the job, despite Ministers saying Mr O'Brien staying on is the best way for him to help.

"That statement doesn't have very much credibility," said Ms O'Reilly

"Nobody on the Government benches has expressed confidence in Mr O'Brien.

"In fact, when given the opportunity neither the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste or the Minister for Health have actually said that they have confidence in him.

"He is the head of the HSE. The buck stops with him. He needs to take accountability and responsibility for presiding over a toxic culture of cover-up."

READ MORE: HSE to pay for Vicky Phelan's drug treatment

Meanwhile, GPs are advising patients they may experience some delay in getting an appointment due to the CervicalCheck scandal.

The National Association of General Practitioners says it is due to an increased demand on doctors.

GPs are also seeing a significant increase in calls from concerned people and are advising patients to contact the CervicalCheck helpline first.

- Digital Desk

Update 6.15pm: Vicky Phelan to be part of CervicalCheck scoping enquiry; Sinn Féin plans for no-confidence motion in Tony O'Brien

It has been confirmed that Vicky Phelan will be part of the CervicalCheck scoping enquiry which will most likely lead to a Commission of Investigation being set up.

It comes as the Dáil will vote on whether it has confidence in HSE boss Tony O'Brien next week.

Sinn Féin will bring a no-confidence motion on Tuesday.

The government has said Mr O'Brien should see out his time in the job.

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O'Reilly says it's up to Fianna Fáil now to decide if they will support the motion.

"My understanding is that two of their TDs have in fact come out to say that they agree with Sinn Féin and Vicky Phelan...that he (O'Brien) should go.

"They will have the opportunity this week. I think it will be very interesting. I would be surprised if people on the Fianna Fáil benches would go so far as to express confidence in Tony O'Brien."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's health spokesperson says Tony O'Brien remaining as the boss of the HSE for the rest of his tenure will distract from supporting women and getting answers.

Mr O'Brien has three months left in the job and has been facing criticism over his handling of the CervicalCheck scandal.

Stephen Donnelly says that Fianna Fáil will have to see the motion to decide whether to support it.

At this point, it is clear that Mr O'Brien staying as Director-General for the remainder of his term -which is 12-weeks - is going to distract, or in my opinion and in Fianna Fáil's opinion, is going to distract from supporting women and in getting to the truth very quickly in a preliminary investigation.

- Digital Desk

Update 12.30pm: Sinn Féin to bring motion of no confidence in Tony O'Brien over CervicalCheck crisis

Sinn Féin will bring a motion of no confidence in the HSE's Director General Tony O'Brien next week.

There have been repeated calls from the party for O'Brien to resign over the handling of the CervicalCheck crisis.

Mr O'Brien insists he knew nothing about the situation until he saw it on the news last week.

He has also temporarily stepped aside from a board member role with a US Medical manufacturer to deal with the crisis.

Tony O'Brien only has a few months left on his contract and was due to step down in July.

The government have said they think he can better serve an investigation into CervicalCheck by staying in the role.

While Fianna Fáil have been critical of Mr O'Brien, only one TD has publicly called for his resignation.

It will leave Micheál Martin spending the long weekend deciding whether to support the no confidence motion in the head of the organisation he himself set up in 2004.

Digital Desk

Earlier: Women facing cervical treatment delay

Update 7.16am: Women with abnormal smears are being told they have to wait up to two months for treatment.

It comes after efforts to reassure women that the CervicalCheck programme is safe, and internationally regarded.

GPs fear they will not be reimbursed for repeat smears, and some women say they have to wait up to two months for treatment.

    HSE advice for those affected:

  • Here is the advice from the HSE to women with normal CervicalCheck test results:
  • You can continue your normal schedule of tests. Please review the information on cervicalcheck.ie;
  • If you are still worried, please contact your GP or smear-taker and discuss your concerns;
  • If you or your GP remain concerned, you can access a free CervicalCheck test from your GP or smear-taker;
  • Here is HSE advice for people who have a history of treatment or assessment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer:
  • Review the information on cervicalcheck.ie or call the information line on 1800-45-45-55;
  • If you are still worried, please contact your colposcopy clinic;
  • If you were discharged from a colposcopy clinic in the past, and are not currently in treatment, you can access a free CervicalCheck test from your GP or smear-taker;
  • For women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer:
  • Call the information line on 1800-45-45-55;
  • Review the information on cervicalcheck.ie and your call will be returned as soon as possible;

Women can have confidence in the national cervical screening programme, the Department of Health’s chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said yesterday.

Professor Donal Brennan, Dr Jerome Coffey, Dr Tony Holohan, Dr Colm Henry and Dr Mary Short. Photo:Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Dr Holohan said he and other clinical experts were very grateful to Vicky Phelan who put the circumstances of her case in the public domain to highlight the issues they now had an opportunity to address.

However, they were aware that there were “substantial issues” of concern and wanted to assure women that they could have confidence in CervicalCheck.

“We want to use the opportunity to say to you clearly that none of the evidence that we have available to us at this point gives us any reason to have any concern about the quality assurance of the performance of the screening programme,” said Dr Holohan.

At a media briefing, Dr Holohan said the screening programme had led to a 7% annual decrease in the incidence of cervical cancer.

We are now having an effect on mortality and stage of presentation — we are picking up people earlier. We have no basis at this point for expressing any lack of confidence in the continuing performance of that screening programme and the impact it is having on population health.

HSE chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, said the integrity of the programme was a key component in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer in the population. However, the current controversy raised issues about communication and open disclosure.

“In my role as chief clinical officer in the HSE certainly one of the key priorities will be ensuring that our clinicians are aware of their obligation to disclose information in the treatment or investigation of patients at all stages,” said Dr Henry.

Director of the national cancer control programme, Dr Jerome Coffey, said they had a very strong programme; they had high-quality assurance standards and they were monitored.

Dr Coffey said they knew there was “tiny, tiny probability” of a woman having a “false negative” smear test but it was much less than one in 100.

They already had a plan to move to HPV testing as the primary screening test in the autumn and it would provide further reassurance that they were making the best technology available Women’s health.

Director of the Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr Mary Short, said the more women engaged in the screening programme, the less likely they were to have any fears.

“If women have abnormal bleeding or bleeding after intercourse then they should go to their doctors,” said Dr Short.

Head of services and advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society, Donal Buggy, said there had been significant “mix messaging” and that needed to stop.

I am concerned about getting clarity for the 3,000 women and their families who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer over the last 10 years and for the women who have engaged in the screening programme and who have had a negative smear,” said Mr Buggy.

No woman will be reassured by an investigation, a commission or a political conversation this weekend. They need to have clear information.

Gynaecologist oncologist, Prof Donal Brennan, said the day-to-day working of the programme had been “extremely successful.”

Irish Examiner


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