HSE reveals 50 women whose results were delayed by IT glitch tested positive for HPV virus

Ministers have expressed full confidence in Simon Harris over the latest CervicalCheck controversy impacting 800 women.

HSE reveals 50 women whose results were delayed by IT glitch tested positive for HPV virus

Ministers have expressed full confidence in Simon Harris over the latest CervicalCheck controversy impacting 800 women.

It has emerged that around 50 of the women whose results were delayed because of an IT glitch at the US laboratory where the slides were sent, have now tested positive for the HPV virus.

However, Health Minister Simon Harris has moved to play down any threat to the women's health as a result of the delay claiming there is a very low clinical risk involved.

Questioned about the latest controversy, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy both backed their Government colleague.

"I have full confidence in Simon Harris," said Mr Murphy who added that he "doesn't accept the characterisation of this reverting to an old style" of keeping the facts from the public and only releasing them in a drip-feed manner.

Mr Donohoe added: "I know he is aware at first hand of the level of anxiety and concern that women have regarding their health and regarding all of the issues that have been caused by cervical cancer and all of the different issues that have been generated by this tragedy.

"He is determined to make sure that women's health is prioritised and that we find a way to ensure that our health care in this area is as strong and as effective as everyone wants it to be."

The revelations about IT problems in the Quest diagnostics lab which left the 800 women without results emerged last Thursday, one day after the Minister was first informed.

A review of the latest smear check scandal will now be carried out by Dublin City University president Brian MacCraith who will finish his work by August 2.

However, the Irish Patients Association has called on the Taoiseach to discuss the current cervical cancer debacle at Cabinet tomorrow with a view to setting up a truly rapid independent inquiry.

"This matter has now come to such a degree of seriousness, with such doubts as to who knew what or when they knew. It needs an independent inquiry to sift through the noise," said group spokesperson Stephen McMahon.

But in a statement, Prof. MacCraith said: "The review is independent and is being carried out solely by me. Otherwise, I would not have agreed to take on this role."

He added that in order to collect the information he requires to conduct the Review as quickly as possible he would be supported by a number of HSE staff and the full report will be published when completed.

"These staff will be working solely under my direction in this matter. The HSE CEO and I have agreed that I will have access to any external expert advice that I may require during the course of the Review."

Prof. MacCraith has also started discussions with patient representatives including Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh.

"I have also spoken with ‘Sharon’, the patient who brought this matter into the public domain. I will meet with patients this week and have committed to keeping them informed of progress throughout the Review."

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