“To Deprive A Family Of Vital Information Was The Intention”

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From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is being asked about the case of Vicky Phelan and the CervicalCheck scandal – ahead of the Minister for Health Simon Harris taking questions on the matter later this evening, after 6pm.

He has told the Dáil that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) will carry out an inquiry into the matter – and that such an inquiry is the “best way to do it”.

Readers will recall that on April 16, Mr Harris was notified of Ms Phelan’s case via a memo from Department of Health officials. This memo is expected to be published in redacted form this evening.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil that he and his party’s health spokesman Stephen Donnelly discussed this memo with Mr Harris and some of his officials this morning.

Mr Martin said:

“It was revealed there that there were, there had been intense discussions between department officials and CervicalCheck in advance of this case and in relation to this case. But the Minister wasn’t told anything about those discussions is what I picked up about that.

“We know that in July 2016 the former clinical director of CervicalCheck [Dr Gráinne Flannelly] sent a letter to clinicians  outlining a three-point plan. And the last point in that was in cases where a woman has died simply ensure the result is recorded in the woman’s notes.

It was that coldly clinical. One would argue illegal as well – to deprive a family of vital information of that kind which was the intention of that plan…question is: who else was aware of that plan?”

“…the memo to the minister anticipates adverse publicity because a press release is prepared for the minister in the event of the case going public and some of the information in the memo is, to me it appears to be, wrong and inaccurate and false in that the sense is created in the memo that women were informed of their results when, in fact, we now know that the women were not informed of their results…”

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil:

“I am very angry on behalf of the 160 or so women who were not told of the results of the audit, even though it wouldn’t have made a difference in their case in terms of treatment or prognosis or outcome because they had already been diagnosed with cancer at that stage. They still should have been told.

“…In terms of the actions that are now going to take place, first of all, there will be a statutory inquiry, led by HIQA. We believe that’s the best way to do it. It’s the quickest way to do it. We need answers in months, not years. And also they have the skills and the statutory powers to do so…”

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald told Mr Varadkar the director general of the HSE Tony O’Brien’s position is “untenable and he needs to go” and that, if he doesn’t resign, Mr Varadkar should “sack him”.

In relation to this, Mr Varadkar said:

You’ve called for the dismissal of Tony O’Brien. It’s based on an assertion that the decision to outsource these tests to the US in 2008 somehow cost lives. I explained why that is not yet supported by the facts. And I think everyone, even Tony O’Brien, deserves a fair hearing before they’re condemned. And we need to assess as to whether that decision or not was a wrong one. And it may not turn out to be wrong. And I think we need to be fair about that in that regard.”

More as we get it.

Yesterday: HSE Boss ‘Dismissed My Concerns’ About Cervical Screening Results

27 thoughts on ““To Deprive A Family Of Vital Information Was The Intention”

    1. GiggidyGoo

      I can’t think of any Health Minister in the last, say, 20 years that it could be said of that he/she was even good. Every last one of them has baggage.

      1. Cian

        …it is almost as if the job of managing a €20 billion budget to support a nation’s healthcare is non-trivial.

  1. phil

    I always find it interesting that when a scandal erupts , which has caused some very ‘unfair’ treatment to the victims , the first thing the Government wants to insure is ‘fairness’ for those who are potentially responsible for the scandal….

    You would think the head of the HSE’s golden handshake, not his pension, would be at risk here, if only for political reasons, but I think we all know thats not going to be an issue, money has far more protections than peoples lives, and the last thing they want to do is set a precedent ….

    1. b

      two wrongs don’t make a right – find out what he knew and when and by all means sack him if its found he didn’t fulfill his duties

      i’d be the first to welcome someone from the HSE getting their cards over this but just going for the quick kill of the CEO or the Minister just looks good for the optics and allows the real culprits to carry on and a culture to prevail where you’ll never get sacked unless you’re where the buck stops

      1. david

        You cannot sack them
        The system ensures that
        All these measures proposed are means to just avoid accountability
        As soon as they are allowed to control if accountability will not happen
        When the outrage is ended the matter is forgotten everyone is quietly put to bed
        The only way to sort this is not to allow this special committee tribunal and review
        What’s needed is blood and a garda investigation leading to jail
        We are going to see exactly the same as the hepatitis C outcome with the taxpayer footing the bill as the culprits head off into the horizon with pensions golden handshakes and skin intact

      2. david

        You cannot sack them
        The system ensures that
        All these measures proposed are means to just avoid accountability
        As soon as they are allowed to control if accountability will not happen
        When the outrage is ended the matter is forgotten everyone is quietly put to bed
        The only way to sort this is not to allow this special committee tribunal and review
        What’s needed is blood and a garda investigation leading to jail
        We are going to see exactly the same as the hepatitis C outcome with the taxpayer footing the bill as the culprits head off into the horizon with pensions golden handshakes and skin intact
        All involved past and present must pay the price

    2. Mickey Twopints

      If this quote is accurate:

      “And I think everyone, even Tony O’Brien, deserves a fair hearing before they’re condemned.”

      … is Leo sharing an insight into that which he already knows?

      1. david

        And that is more reason why varadka’s role as minister of health needs looking at
        They have already started the process
        I would say the HSE are shredding files
        More reason that the garda must seize all computers etc and raid the HSE offices before they get rid of the evidence

    3. Sheik Yahbouti

      Fair procedures, due process, the right to one’s good name… all of the above are inapplicable to the general public but are the basic rights of politicians, civil servants, quango leeches, bankers and ‘the golden circle’ in general.

  2. LeopoldGloom

    Actually, what is in that pen that is making Michael Moynihan so want to eat it? He looks a little unhinged.

  3. RuilleBuille

    Sickening to listen to Martin pretending to care when he was in the FF/PD government who outsourced cervical screening to incompetent Yanks in 2009.

    1. Adama

      You’ve got 2 of the worst Ministers of Health in the history of the state arguing with each other over who was the most competent. It’d be comical if it’s wasn’t so serious…

  4. Ron

    So to recap.. Varadker says I’m angry for the women involved that information was withheld even though you were going to die anyway.

    So sorry not sorry.

    Pathetic… but expected. What a nasty little b….

    1. david

      He also has major questions to answer
      Why was he not aware or was he aware and buried it
      We now have Avril power failed candidate CEO of cancer society talking the official talk
      Its a foregone conclusion
      This is to be buried and covered over by lots of taxpayers money
      No one will be held account
      Meanwhile brexit looms
      I wonder in compo claims how much did the HSE pay out last year for the victims of negligence
      I bet it runs into the billions

    2. GiggidyGoo

      And he maintains that when he was Health Minister, there was nothing brought to his attention about the possibility that this situation had been developing, or was developing. He knew nothing.

      But, his get out in case he was caught lying, is that he says he will have his staff/office check back just in case it had been brought to his attention.

      Jesus wept.

      1. david

        Maybe examining his computers and emails
        All deleted emails can be traced and looked at with the technology available

  5. Gringo

    Both the Failures and the Blueshirts will connive to bury this debacle over the next few days. Sit back and watch the show.

    1. david

      Precisely then the inquiry ,and the usual
      No one will go to jail all will be financially paid off out of our money
      Then at a later date when everything is forgotten they will be in some other high paid job if not all pensioned off and living the high life

  6. Ron

    INM Management must be over the moon that the focus has shifted from them to this horror story…

  7. david

    More cases are coming out of more women in the smear scandal
    Just like the tracker mortgagee scandal
    Drip feeding the general public and the dail, so no vote of no confidence against the minister
    Boy Harris must go.and yesterday
    Harris could of intervened 3 days before the court case to spare her this nightmare of fighting to get justice
    He cannot come out as compassionate
    He too by his actions was all for crushing her
    That alone shows his unfitness for office
    Harris must go

  8. Catherine costelloe

    Drip.Drip.Drip. Vicki Phelan is paying for for her own cancer treatment after setting up a go fund me page before she sued .
    Her mother probably took out a loan. In the meanwhile we give golden pensions to those responsible for her fatal diagnosis.
    That is SICK.
    An immediate emergency fund should be IMMEDIATELY set up for victims. Talk is cheap with these shysters.

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