Cabinet to sign off on investigation into CervicalCheck scandal

Vicky Phelan was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear of abnormalities

Vicky Phelan was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear of abnormalities

Simon Harris, the health minister, said that the families of all those who died would be informed about the audit by today.

The HSE Serious Incident Management Team held a special briefing on the controversy on Monday afternoon and according to its chairperson, Patrick Lynch, the cause of these women's deaths is not known at this time.

The society completed their statement by thanking Vicky Phelan for the role she played in unravelling the major health scandal.

Mr. O'Carroll, the lawyer for Ms. Phelan, said that the Health Service Executive, the Irish government body that oversees the screening program, and CPL, which were joint defendants in her case, had pursued a prolonged and aggressive defense, demanding that she prove she had suffered actual loss from the delayed diagnosis, and making her spend three days in court before they settled.

"Two hundred and eight women went for a vital screening for a life-threatening illness and they were wrongly given the all clear".

Up to now, the official position has been that all of the cases of cervical cancer had been subject to audit by the CervicalCheck screening programme.

It also emerged that of the 162 who have not been contacted, that 17 of whom have already died.

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The State's leading screening body for cervical cancer is now facing an independent inquiry by HIQA over its handling of the issue, with HSE director Tony O'Brien claiming he only became aware of the scandal when news broke in the media.

"And by God I'm going to take these guys on".

Leo Varadkar says there is no proof that sending the smear tests overseas for examination meant they were any less accurate than if they were examined here.

That figure of 208 women affected now appears to be significantly higher.

The helpline will stay open until 6 this evening and the HSE says call-backs are underway. He said a liaison nurse will coordinate with the women.

Outlining the need for an investigation, Mr Harris said: "Given the gravity of the situation, and the impact it has had on Vicky Phelan and potentially a number of other women, I think it is vital that we ensure that we put in place a process that will allow all of us - patients, doctors and policy makers - to understand exactly what happened, and what steps we need to rectify the situation".

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach says he will not fire HSE boss Tony O'Brien after the CervicalCheck scandal.

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