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All 1500 cervical cancer cases will be reviewed

02 May 2018

Following news released at a HSE briefing on Monday that confirmed 162 of the women who'd been affected had not yet been told their fate, the Irish Cancer Society then shared the news that they'd requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Health Simon Harris to seek clarity on a number of items surrounding the scandal.

Chair of the HSE Serious Incident Management Team Patrick Lynch said the women had a right to know about their cases.

The briefing note, dated April 16, advised the Minister acknowledge the terminally ill mum-of-two's "severe distress" once the action was settled.

'HPV is associated with 70pc of all cervical cancers and I would stress to women the importance of CervicalCheck and the HPV vaccination programme as key measures in reducing their risk of developing cervical cancer'.

He also said he first learned of the entirety of the Vicky Phelan case on the RTÉ News website last week.

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Ms Phelan (43), a mother of two from Limerick, settled her High Court action against a USA laboratory for €2.5 million last week.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) tonight confirmed 3,000 women have been diagnosed with cervical cancer over the 10-year period since 2008, and 1,482 of these cases were notified to CervicalCheck and included in this audit.

The memo states that the outcome of all current, and historical clinical cancer audits, were subsequently communicated to treating clinicians in 2016 (including in this case).

The memo comes just a day after it was revealed that 17 women who were affected by the smear test blunder had died.

She added: "This is a massive patient safety issue".

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The Director General of the HSE yesterday suggested that women might prefer to ask for a review of their slides, as the issue was with the screening part of the check, rather than the taking of the smear, which is much more invasive. "By God am I going to take these guys on, I think it's disgraceful".

A helpline set up for people who have concerns has received 6,000 calls.

Mr Harris said he is now moving towards establishing a commission of investigation to uncover the extent of this controversy.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said there will be an inquiry into the controversy. He said a liaison nurse will coordinate with the women. While insisting that cancer screening "does work", he acknowledged that there had been "appalling communication failures".

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All 1500 cervical cancer cases will be reviewed