Tag Archives: CervicalCheck

This afternoon.

On the set of The Letters by director Robbie Walsh (far right).

Actor John Connors (second from left) instagramz:

On set for for Robbie Walsh’s new feature “The Letters” a story about four women who fell victim to the Irish state’s cervical [cancer] scandal. A really important film. I play the nurse! Great to share a scene with my old mentor Kathleen Warner Yeates [above centre] who is eclectic in this film. Don’t miss this one.

The Letters (Kickstarter)

Last week: Innocent Boy Wins Love Of Virgin

Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan; Lorraine Walsh

This lunchtime.

RTÉ’s health correspondent Fergal Bowers, on foot of a Freedom of Information request, is reporting on correspondence he has seen between the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan and CervicalCheck patient advocate Lorraine Walsh from March of this year.

Ms Walsh, from Galway, who was one of the women caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal last year, cannot conceive due to having had cervical cancer.

She is also one of the Government’s appointees to the CervicalCheck steering group.

Mr Bowers has reported that Dr Holohan – who is co-chairperson of the CervicalCheck Group – wrote to Ms Walsh on March 13  of this year taking issue with comments she had made on social media, and to print media, about him.

He reported the letter said her claims about him were “baseless” and it warned her that if she repeated the claims in public, there would be a “very strong response”.

He also asked her to withdraw the claims.

Mr Bowers reported that the letter was also released to Labour TD and the party’s health spokesperson Alan Kelly, following a parliamentary question and separate FOI request by him.

On RTÉ’s News At One, Labour TD Alan Kelly told Mr Bowers:

 “I sought this information under parliamentary question in early July. The department refused to give it to me. I had to chase this for two months.

“I had to repeatedly go to the Ceann Comhairle and it was only after the Ceann Comhairle wrote to the minister that basically, telling him, that this was against the constitutional responsibilities of a minister, that we’d got to a point where this information was released to me.

“I had no faith that this information was going to be given to me so I had to put in a Freedom of Information request on top of my parliamentary question.

“TDs shouldn’t have to put in Freedom of Information requests because they believe that their parliamentary questions are not going to be answered.”

Mr Bowers told News At One that a spokesperson for the Minister for Health Simon Harris said Mr Harris was not aware of the letter in advance of it being sent from Mr Holohan to Ms Walsh.

Walsh warned over repeating CervicalCheck management criticisms (RTE)

Rollingnews

CervicalCheck; Dublin City University president Prof Brian MacCraith

The Irish Times is reporting that a woman, who wants to be identified as Ms Scullion, made contact with the newspaper in the wake of Dublin City University president Prof Brian MacCraith’s report on delays in the issuing cervical screening HPV retest results to women.

The delays related to a Quest Diagnostics’ laboratory based at Chantilly in Virginia, USA, and Prof MacCraith found that 4,088 cases were affected by an IT problem.

Some 873 women who had repeat HPV tests were not sent results while, in the case of the remaining 3,215 women, results were sent to GPs but not to the women themselves.

Ms Scullion told The Irish Times that she was one of the 873 women and that she received a letter on Tuesday, August 6, telling her that she tested negative for HPV in her HPV retest.

But, Ms Scullion told the the newspaper, she is HPV positive – and she knows this from a previous test.

Further to this…

Marie O’Halloran reports in The Irish Times:

…The HSE on Wednesday confirmed that almost half of the 873 women received a letter in the last week from CervicalCheck that “contained an inaccuracy”.

…In a statement, the HSE said in the letters sent out, “we also confirmed that the result of these women’s HPV re-test was unchanged ‘and remains HPV negative’. However, for some women, this should have read ‘and remains HPV positive’. This was an error on our part and we are very sorry for any confusion it may have caused.”

*Thud*

CervicalCheck sends letter with incorrect test results to 400 women (Marie O’Halloran, The Irish Times)

Previously: No Checks

This afternoon.

Smock Alley Theatrte, Dublin

Professor Brian MacCraith talks to the media about the series of events within the HSE CervicalCheck Programme that occurred following IT issues in Quest Diagnostics relating to the HPV test results for a number of women.

Prof. MacCraith found the provision of Quest Diagnostics Chantilly Laboratory as a CervicalCheck test facility took place without proper operational due diligence and risk assessment,

The report also found there was a gross underestimation of the scale and implications of the problem.

The primary casualty was communications with the women and GPs, with the breakdown in automated results generation, it concluded.

The report said there was a decision not to communicate with women, about the IT problems and its implications for a full six months in 2019.

Professor Brian MacCraith has said that between February and last week, there was no communication with the majority of women involved.

“Throughout this review there was a constant theme of women frustrated by poor service and lack of information, their information,” Prof MacCraith said.

Lab was added to CervicalCheck programme without checks (RTÉ)

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

Minister for Health Simon Harris

This morning.

It has emerged that 52 of the 800 women impacted by the reported IT problems in the Quest Diagnostics laboratory have contracted the HPV virus.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to “provide immediate answers” to the following:

1. Have all 52 women who tested positive for HPV on the Quest retest been notified of their results?

2. Have they all been referred for appropriate follow-up?

3. Have the other 750 women and their GPs been notified of their retest results?

4. What is the level of clinical risk for the 52 women who tested positive?

5. What action was taken by the HSE in February when they became aware of these problems with Quest?

6. Why were the Patient Advocates not informed of these issues at the Steering Group meeting on 26th June?

7. What action does the Minister intend to take to restore public confidence in CervicalCheck?

8. Does the Minister intend to review the Quest contract in light of these quality control failures?”

Anyone?

52 more positive for HPV in test scandal (Irish Examiner)

Yesterday: When Did he Know?

Meanwhile

Minister for Health Simon Harris

This morning.

Via RTE:

Correspondence obtained by RTÉ News has revealed that a private secretary to the Minister for Health wrote on 6 June to the woman whose case exposed the latest CervicalCheck crisis.

The letter to ‘Sharon’ says that: “The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T. D. has asked me to thank you for your correspondence concerning CervicalCheck and would like to again apologise for any distress this delay has caused you and reassure you that this is a priority for his Department and the Health Service Executive (HSE).”

Last weekend, the department said that it became aware of the existence of an IT issue on 25 June through information supplied by the Health Service Executive.

Minister Harris has said the matter was first escalated to him last Wednesday evening, 10 July.

Minister’s office wrote to woman at centre of latest CervicalCheck issue on 6 June (RTÉ)

Previously: ‘I’m Still Kind Of Flabbergasted’

Rollingnews

RTÉ’s Áine Lawlor; Dr Peter McKenna of the HSE

This afternoon on RTÉ’s News At One.

Journalist Áine Lawlor spoke to Dr Peter McKenna, the clinical director of the women’s and infants’ programme with the HSE – after nobody from the HSE was available to speak to RTÉ’s earlier shows Morning Ireland or Today with Seán O’Rourke.

The lunchtime interview followed it emerging last night that approximately 800 women who had CervicalCheck tests carried out between October 1, 2018, and June 25, 2019, have not received their test results.

This has been blamed on an IT issue at a Quest Diagnostics laboratory in Virginia in the US.

Most of the women affected were getting repeat tests for the human papillomavirus HPV – which can cause cervical cancer – because Quest had previously failed to carry out HPV testing on the women’s initial smears within the 30-day limit.

RTÉ reported last night that the HSE told the Department of Health on Wednesday that it became aware of the IT problem in June.

This lunchtime, Dr McKenna told Ms Lawlor that the HSE knew there was a “computer glitch” in February.

From the interview:

Áine Lawlor: “The lesson on Gabriel Scally’s report about open disclosure and honesty and transparency with the women who are fundamental to the future of CervicalCheck and who depend on CervicalCheck – that lesson has not been learned by the health service.”

Dr Peter McKenna: “I wouldn’t agree with that, in principle. I think that there’s elements of this problem that only emerged to the HSE in the last ten days or so. And the extent of what needs to be communicated with women is not yet currently absolutely certain.”

Lawlor: “OK, well let’s try and establish the facts. So we’re talking about 800-plus women who had repeated cervical smear tests done between October 2018 and June 2019. Is that right?”

McKenna: “Yes, and these are women whose cytology results were known and they had a minor degree of abnormality and in order to see whether they needed to go for coloposcopy or not, an additional test of HPV was carried out.”

Lawlor: “So, in lay person’s language, they had had a previous smear test that had shown some abnormalities related to HPV and this was a repeat smear test to see whether there’d been any changes. Is that right?”

McKenna: “It’s a refinement, it’s a, a papaloma test, rather than a repeat smear test.”

Lawlor: “OK, so it was a more advanced test.”

McKenna: “It was a more advanced test, now, if you…”

Lawlor: “And the computer broke down when?”

McKenna: “No, no, sorry, just to go back even further than that. These 800 women were women who had had a HPV test carried out but, as you may remember, towards the end of last year, it transpired that the tests had been done on an out-of-date kit. I don’t know if that…”

Lawlor: “I think everybody remembers every twist and turn of this unfortunately Dr McKenna. So they had gone for tests again after that, is that right?”

McKenna: “No, so the kit was out of date. And those women that had come back as positive – they were treated as if the result was correct.

“And those women, who the result had come back as negative, it was said ‘no, we should take this seriously and we will repeat the test’. And so, 800 of these women, whose tests have come back as negative initially on the HPV, were then retested.”

Lawlor: “OK. And when did the computer breakdown?

McKenna:It was known in February that there was a computer glitch and…”

Lawlor: “Where was it known exactly, Dr Peter McKenna, because most of us knew nothing about this until yesterday and today. So the question is: this computer failure goes back to February.

Who knew about that back in February? And who has known about that since?

McKenna: “Well, my understanding is that, if I could just finish, that it was known in February and…”

Lawlor: “By whom?”

McKenna: “In whom the tests results altered were informed by CervicalCheck in February. So there was a small number of the 800 women, in whom the results were different, and they were informed directly by CervicalCheck. So the women who were affected were informed as soon as it was known.”

Lawlor: “But who knew about the fail…what does the computer failure involve? When did it happen and who knew about it?”

McKenna: “The computer is designed to…the computer of the labs overseas is designed to communicate with the computer here. And that triggers a, a cascade of letters. It was appreciated that wasn’t working and a manual system was put in place, as far as the HSE knew.”

Lawlor: “OK, it was appreciated by whom? Who appreciated this? And who made the decision to put the manual system in place? And why was none of this made public?”

McKenna: “Right. The answer to the names, I couldn’t give you. I don’t know. But however, it was appreciated within the screening service because the screening service put alternative, manual arrangements in place.”

Lawlor: “And did the HSE know that these computers weren’t working? And that manual arrangements were now being put in place to write to women? And was anybody checking that that was actually happening?”

McKenna: “The service did know that the computers were not speaking to each other – that is absolutely correct and the HSE were reassured by the fact that the women were being written to manually, or sorry, their GPs were being written to manually.”

Lawlor: “So the women’s doctors were being written to, by whom? Who was responsible for…”

McKenna: “By the laboratory.”

Lawlor: “By the laboratory.”

McKenna: “Yeah.”

Lawlor: “So CervicalCheck told the HSE and everybody understood that the laboratories would write to the women…”

McKenna: “Would write to the GPs….”

Lawlor: “Would write to the women’s doctors…”

McKenna: “Yeah…”

Lawlor: “And when did it emerge that this was not happening?

McKenna: This only came to the knowledge of the screening programme and the HSE in early July.

Lawlor:In early July, but a number of months had passed. Had it not occurred to anybody to get back and check, given the sensitivity and, as you say, there have a lot of twists and turns in all of this and we have had the Scally Report which has emphasised the importance of transparency – particularly if women are to go on turning up for smear tests as part of the cervical screening programme.”

McKenna: “I can absolutely understand that question. The HSE and the screening are very disappointed that the arrangement that they thought had been put in place wasn’t working. And this will be investigated as to why this element was not followed through by the contractor.”

Lawlor: “But this is what happened in the first place isn’t it? Somebody thought somebody was telling the women but nobody was?”

McKenna: “No, it’s not quite the same as that. That was the result of an audit. This is probably, in some ways, more important than actual clinical results – there was a delay in communication.”

Lawlor: I’m still kind of flabbergasted. Just one other thing – did the minister know? The minister’s department? We know that the HSE knew about this and understood it was being dealt with by the laboratory, and this only emerged in the last while, that you found out that the letters weren’t happening.

Was the minister’s office across this?

McKenna: “I would not…I don’t know the answer to that. I’m sorry.”

Lawlor: “OK, so you don’t know whether the Department of Health was involved?”

McKenna: “I don’t. No.”

Lawlor: “You said you can understand why women might not have confidence after everything. I mean this comes across like almost like a last straw, doesn’t it, for many women?”

McKenna: “It certainly doesn’t sound good. But I think it’s important to point out that these women have had cervical cytology – they do not have a severe grade of cervical abnormality. If they did they would have been referred directly to colposcopy. This is a delay in communicating the result of a second or a refined test which would indicate whether they should or shouldn’t go on to colposcopy.”

Lawlor: “Well we appreciate you coming on the programme to talk to us today.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: ‘Why Wait Until An Hour After The Dáil Goes Into Recess To Let The Information Out Publicly?’

Meanwhile…

 

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris; Quest Diagnostics

Last night.

It emerged that approximately 800 women who had CervicalCheck tests carried out between October 1, 2018, and June 25, 2019, have not received their test results because of an IT issue at a Quest Diagnostics laboratory in Virginia in the US.

It followed one woman affected making inquiries about her own test results.

Most of the women affected were getting repeat tests for the human papillomavirus HPV – which can cause cervical cancer – because Quest had previously carried out HPV testing on the women’s initial smears beyond the 30-day limit.

RTÉ have reported that the HSE told the Department of Health on Wednesday that it became aware of the IT problem in June.

This morning, Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ’s Radio One:

We need to understand why the HSE took so long to inform the department. We know last year, when CervicalCheck [scandal] broke, that actually the Department and the HSE had been going back and forth and it was in reference to preparing the minister for the fact that Vicky Phelan’s case was about to break and that that could lead on to knock-on implications as of course it did.

We want to know why the department wasn’t informed. And, indeed, maybe they were informed but they were informed informally.”

“…Why wait until an hour after the Dáil goes into recess to let the information out publicly. Why, if it’s not a big deal, were the minister, or the HSE, a no-show on Morning Ireland this morning?

If this is not a big problem then we need to hear from the political leadership and the administrative leadership to explain that.”

Mr O’Rourke told his listeners that his programme also asked both the minister and the HSE for a spokesperson but neither were available.

Listen back in full here

800 women did not receive CervicalCheck results after IT issue at US laboratory (RTE)

Rollingnews

Dr Gabriel Scally this afternoon

This afternoon.

More as we get it.

Rollingnews

Hand THEM a leaflet at the door.

Dani McCabe writes:

I am writing to you on behalf of Standing 4 Women, a group that was formed a year ago in response to the Cervical Check Scandal.

We have launched our most recent campaign, Canvass Your Candidate, with the intent to make sure those who would ask for our votes can align with us in Standing 4 Action against the continues failures of Cervical Check, the HSE and the Irish Government.

Above are the leaflets that accompany the campaign that your readers are welcome to save and print at home from our Facebook page (at link below).

Many local Standing 4 Women groups all over the country will be knocking on doors and holding stalls ahead of Local Election Candidates to encourage voters to ask these questions and push for commitment from those who’d take positions in local government to actively resolve the many issues still with no progress or resolutions.

Standing 4 Women