HSE confirms hundreds of women got incorrect information in CervicalCheck letters

The HSE has confirmed around 400 women have received letters from CervicalCheck containing incorrect information.

HSE confirms hundreds of women got incorrect information in CervicalCheck letters

The HSE has confirmed around 400 women have received letters from CervicalCheck containing incorrect information.

Around 800 women, whose repeat smear test results were delayed for months, got a letter this week telling them their HPV status "remained negative".

However, half of the women should have been told their status "remained positive".

The HSE has apologised for "any confusion or distress" the mistake may have caused.

A review found that more than 4,080 women had delayed HPV test results communicated to them as a result of an IT problem in a US diagnostics lab, which was contracted by the HSE.

The Irish Examiner asked the HSE if any further backlog is anticipated as the situation of delayed letters is addressed.

"No. The IT system that was at the root of the problem has now been successfully brought online and women’s results have begun to issue automatically to GPs, while women have begun to receive automatic letters of result notification from CervicalCheck," a spokeswoman from the HSE said.

No backlog will be created as a result of this issue. However, some duplicate results may be sent to GPs for the same cervical screening test; we will alert GPs of this.

Last Tuesday Professor Brian MacCraith launched his independent rapid review into the latest CervicalCheck error. The IT failure, which saw thousands of result letters being delayed, was made public on July 11.

As part of the immediate steps to address the issue, the HSE said that all women impacted by the IT issue would be contacted in the coming weeks. The HSE spokeswoman confirmed to the Irish Examiner: "We have started to communicate with all women affected by this issue. It is anticipated that all women and their GPs will be communicated with over the coming weeks, by mid-August."

Several issues were made public in the report, namely that operational due diligence was not carried out, when a new lab, Quest Diagnostics (QD) Chantilly Laboratory, came onboard to analyse screening tests on behalf of the HSE. The HSE had already been using another of QD's labs in New Jersey before Chantilly was contracted.

The Irish Examiner asked if the HSE is satisfied to continue working with QD Chantilly. The spokeswoman said: "Yes. Quest Diagnostics Chantilly laboratory is fully accredited and was subject to a quality assurance (QA) visit by CervicalCheck in April 2019.

"During this visit, independent experts confirmed good laboratory practice in the facility, in line with current CervicalCheck QA standards which are based on the standard cervical screening model."

Other steps as a result of Prof. MacCraith's report include the appointment of a new CEO for the CervicalCheck screening programme.

The HSE has already appointed management consultant, Celine Fitzgerald, as interim chief executive of CervicalCheck until a permanent appointment is made.

A tracings system which will allow women to follow their results online following a screening test is also being set up.

They said: "A scoping exercise is currently underway to establish a tracking system. Once this scoping exercise is complete, we will be in the position to provide more information."

On Wednesday two members of the CervicalCheck patient support group 221+ met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

After the meeting, Mr Harris said the Taoiseach will make an apology to all women affected by CervicalCheck errors in the next Dáil term.

- Additional reporting by Digital Desk.

This story has been amended

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