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Ireland's HSE condemned over lack of action in smear scandal

By Eilish O’Regan ·

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Dr Gabriel Scally is to publish a report today

Victims of the Republic’s CervicalCheck scandal have been let down by a litany of systematic failures, a damning report has revealed.

Some 221 women with cervical cancer were not informed that smear test results showing them to be clear were inaccurate, and then revised test results were kept from them.

The report by Dr Gabriel Scally, which will be published in full today, condemns the Irish Health Service Executive’s (HSE) lack of action.

The Scally Report raises serious concerns about the way CervicalCheck was run, its internal culture and warns of system-wide failings across the health service that impacted on the screening programme.

It also points to a lack of understanding of responsibilities by people overseeing the scheme.

The scathing report is highly critical of governance and structures across the screening programme and within the HSE.

It is also critical of the “contradictory nature of HSE policy” and its failure to follow patient disclosure rules.

But the 170-page report with 50 recommendations fails to name any individuals involved in the scandal.

However, the report does recommend that the HSE continue to outsource the testing of cervical smears to US and Irish laboratories.

The report was at the centre of controversy yesterday after the leaking of one of Dr Scally’s views that a full inquiry may not be needed. Victims want a full public investigation.

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris was widely accused of leaking the report but strongly denied responsibility.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was “disgusted” people who were ill or bereaved heard about the findings this way.

Vicky Phelan, the terminally ill Limerick mother-of-two who revealed the scandal, spoke of her distress and called the situation a “whitewash”.

Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died after wrong test results, said he was “heartbroken” by the disrespect.

As the Irish government grappled with its latest mishandling both Ms Phelan and Mr Teap, along with cancer survivor Lorraine Walsh, received a private viewing of the report in Limerick.

They are understood to have spent several hours looking through its conclusions with Dr Scally.

They declined to give their views last night on its findings, but will give an opinion today when it is published.

Dr Scally was asked to carry out a scoping report in May, and he was due to have it completed in weeks.

But a lack of documents from the HSE delayed his investigation and he was continuing to receive some of the 12,000 records he eventually received in recent weeks. The report is non-statutory and cannot point the finger of blame at any individual.

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Dr Gabriel Scally is to publish a report today
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Vicky Phelan