Health Care

Over 2000 women called CervicalCheck helpline since Saturday

Over 2000 women called CervicalCheck helpline since Saturday”

The HSE confirmed earlier this week that 17 women had died out of a total 208 not told they may have had a delayed diagnosis and may have benefited from earlier treatment.

In a review of ten years of the Cervical Check programme, the HSE reviewed the cases of 208 women who developed cancer, but who were previously told they had no anomalies.

"While CervicalCheck has audited all cases notified to it, I have been informed that a potentially significant number of cases will not have been subjected to an audit of their screening history". The next step will be to publish its Terms of Reference, which will be in about a fortnight's time.

On Saturday evening, the clinical director of CervicalCheck, Dr Grainne Flannelly, stepped down from her post "to allow the programme to continue its important work".

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"It was not clear until after the details of the case became public that this process was not ensuring that women were informed and once I became aware of that I ordered immediate change", he said.

Minister Simon Harris was given a briefing note on Vicky Phelan's case on April 16th - three days before it went to court.

When asked about her decision not to sign a confidentiality clause as part of her settlement, she said: "I was never going to sign a confidentiality clause and that was before I ever knew there were other women involved.In the back of my mind I probably thought there were other women involved but I never knew on this magnitude". "So I don't believe that", said Ms Phelan.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will be an inquiry into the screening controversy.

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It began with terminally ill Limerick woman Vicky Phelan's court case finishing up last week and now Health Minister Simon Harris is under pressure to release a memo he was given about the issue before Vicky's case. All of the other women affected would also be informed by today and given an appointment with a clinician free of charge.

It has also been revealed that a helpline for women concerned about this matter has now received 6,000 calls.

'I recently approved a proposal from the National Screening Service to Move to HPV testing as the primary test for cervical cancer from October 2018.

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

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