Tag Archives: CervicalCheck

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court this morning

Orla O’Donnell, of RTE, reports:

Ruth Morrissey has won her High Court action over the alleged misreading of smear tests and the failure to tell her about it.

The 37-year-old and her husband Paul have been awarded €2.1 million in damages.

Ms Morrissey and her husband, Paul, of Monaleen in Co Limerick, sued the HSE and two laboratories – Quest Diagnostics and MedLab Pathology Limited.

It is the first such case to have been heard in full and to be the subject of a High Court judgment.

Terminally ill woman awarded €2.1m in smear test case (RTE)

Ms Morrissey spoke to reporters after the judgment.

At one point she said:

“What can I say, I didn’t think I’d be in this position because our Taoiseach told us none of us would have to go through this but unfortunately I’m one who had to. So I hope that’s a positive thing for the women who are left – that they don’t need to do this.

“To fight for what is there right to have a good life of what they’ve left.

I’d encourage every woman to continue on getting their smears because it’s very important even though it failed me but it does save many, many lives and it’s a screening programme that we need. The HPV [vaccine], if you’re eligible, please get it. This is not a cancer that you want.

“And I’d just like to thank this man here [Paul] for being my rock through everything.”



From top: Fianna Fail leader Mícheál Martin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; FFl TD Stephen Donnelly at an Oireachtas health committee meeting this morning; a tweet from Health Minister Simon Harris on April 28 last, offering women free repeat smears 

This afternoon.

In the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised the submission made by the former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly to the Oireachtas health committee – revealed this morning – in which she said she warned the Department of Health against offering free out-of-cycle smear tests to concerned women following the Vicky Phelan case last April.

As the Minister for Health Simon Harris previously stated he didn’t receive any warnings against the decision to offer the extra tests, Ms Flannelly’s submission has led some to claim Mr Harris misled the Dáil.

Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly told the health committee this morning:

“What she [Gráinne Flannelly] says directly contradicts the minister’s position.

“And what she says suggests that the minister has, in fact, misled the Dail.”

Minister Harris has since said today:

I never received any contrary advice in relation to the provision of free repeat smear tests.

“It is clear that after the decision was made that some in the CervicalCheck programme did express some concerns about the operationalising of it.”

According to Ms Flannelly she was told of the move to offer the tests at lunchtime on April 28, 2018 – while Minister Harris announced the move at 5.13pm that evening on Twitter.

During Leaders’ Questions Mr Martin told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that Ms Flannelly’s claim “flatly contradicts” that of Minister Harris.

He asked the Taoiseach if he’ll ask the minister to address the Dáil and explain the full sequence of events. He also said the minister’s response to the matter “lacked character”.

Mr Varadkar told Mr Martin that the minister has previously answered questions on the subject and would be happy to do so again.

He then said:

“I think your approach here and your attack here also lacks character. Remember what you said about these people, what you said about the senior people in CervicalCheck on the 1st of May [last year].

“You said that they were cold and calculating. You suggested that they may have been involved in illegality and you suggested that they could have been involved in a conspiracy.

“So perhaps you should reflect on that and if you now hold the views you hold today, you may wish to correct the record and withdraw those remarks that you made about those senior clinicians and senior people in CervicalCheck back on the first of May.

“The reality was that the situation at the time was that there were a lot of women who were really concerned about the accuracy of their smear tests. They were attending their GPs, looking for a repeat smear test.

“They were contacting the helpline looking for a repeat test, there were some doctors calling for repeat smear tests to be allowed. When it was done, patient advocates were calling for it too.

“When it was done, it was welcomed by the Opposition and it was agreed by the IMO. So this wasn’t just a decision made by the Minister for Health. And it was also made with agreement for the Chief Medical Officer.”

Ms Flannelly says she warned that the offer of extra tests would ‘fundamentally undermine the screening programme’. She resigned on the same day the offer was announced.

Last month, Mr Harris told the Dáil that before the decision was made to offer these extra tests, neither he nor his officials received advice against the move.

It’s since emerged almost 80,000 women are now waiting up to 33 weeks for results of their smear tests when the normal waiting time is five to six weeks.

Earlier: Compare And Contrast

From top: Former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly; CervicalCheck logo and Minister for Health Simon Harris

This morning.

Representatives from CervicalCheck and the HSE are scheduled to appear before the Oireachtas health committee.

It’s being reported that former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly will not appear but she has written to the committee ahead of today’s meeting – saying she advised against the State offering free repeat smear tests following the Vicky Phelan case as she believed there were insufficient laboratory resources.

Ms Flannelly stepped down after the CervicalCheck scandal broke.

Today’s meeting follows reports yesterday that, since the start of the year, some women are waiting 33 weeks for CervicalCheck smear test results.

The normal waiting time was four to six weeks.

The Irish Times reported yesterday:

“The backlog currently stands at just under 79,500, and average processing times are also at their longest since the problem began. Under normal conditions, about 23,000 slides would be in processing at any one time.”

Further to this…

Virgin Media political correspondent Gavan Reilly observes…

The health committee proceedings can be watched live here


CervicalCheck logo; a letter a woman received in early February informing her she needed to have a repeat smear test as a consequence of a test she had in the summer of 2016

In January, it emerged that thousands of women were to be written to and advised to return to their GPs for repeat smear tests.

This was in relation to a cohort of women who would have initially tested positive for low-grade abnormalities after having a smear, between 2015 and 2018, and who would have then been advised to have an additional HPV test within 30 days of the initial smear test.

In the cases of these women, the HPV test on the smears were carried out by Quest Diagnostics beyond the 30-day limit.

By the end of January, the HSE wrote to 4,459 women about this situation and invited them to have a repeat smear.

This afternoon it’s emerged that, since February 8 last, 2,572 of these repeat smears were sent for testing and just 200, or 7%, of them have been rechecked.

This means around 2,370 women are still waiting for their repeat test results.

In addition, the repeat tests were sent to…  Quest Diagnostics.

More than 2,300 women still waiting for repeat smear test results (RTE)

Over 2,300 women waiting on repeat smear test results (Newstalk)

Previously: CervicalCheck And Expired Smear Tests Rendered Invalid

Ask A Broadsheet Reader

CervicalCheck: Two Lists

From top: Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court last July, Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins; Tanaiste Simon Coveney

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins raised the nature of the questions put to terminally ill Ruth Morrissey, who has cervical cancer, by the HSE’s legal counsel in the High Court yesterday.

Ms Morrissey, who broke down in the witness box yesterday, is taking action over an alleged misreading of her smear slides in 2009 and 2012 taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme.

Yesterday was the 27th day of Ms Morrissey’s action.

Mr Collins said that last May, following Vicky Phelan’s High Court action, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told RTÉ’s Six One News that, in relation to women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal, “what we propose to do is to offer mediation in every case, so that women can avoid having to go to court and the trauma of a court hearing”.

Mr Collins added:

“He went on to say ‘what we will do in this situation is the State will settle and pursue the lab later’, so essentially the State will be on the side of the plaintiff, on the side of the woman.

“Now late on Monday, Ruth Morrissey was summoned to the High Court for yesterday, where she was subjected to a pretty robust and traumatising cross-examination by counsel for the HSE.

“Her family are quite upset about it and I think it draws into question, seriously, the commitments which were given to the women by the Taoiseach, namely that mediation would be offered. So what I want to ask you is: are you the happy that the mediation process, which the Attorney General was to counsel the State Claims Agency, to enter into a meaningful way. Are you happy that that is happening?

“Are you satisfied that the women who have been failed in this regard are being treated sensitively and properly by the State Claims Agency and that proper mediation process is being engaged in?”

In response, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he acknowledged the “difficulty and the heartache” that Ruth and her family, and that of the other women, have had to go through.

He said:

“The State’s only objective is to support those people as best we can. To try to keep people out of court and to assure that there are settlements that are fair, available to the women and families involved.

“That is why yesterday, on Leaders’ Questions, I announced the detail of the ex-gratia scheme which is being set up now under the chairmanship of a retired High Court judge. So that we can ensure that families and victims and individuals get the support that the State wants to make available to them.

“I don’t have the exact details in relation to the legal arguments around this case, deputy, so I’m slow to comment on a court case but I know certainly the policy direction from the Government is very clear here, to the State Claims Agency.

“We want to try to keep these cases out of court, so that people don’t have to go through what is an adversarial court system in relation to assessing the extent of claims and compensation.”

Ms Morrissey, from Limerick, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and a recurrence of her pelvic wall cancer was diagnosed in February 2018.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey have sued the HSE and the two US laboratories – Quest Diagnostics and Medlab Pathology Ltd.

Related: Telling woman of audit results would not have changed prognosis – consultant (Mary Carolan, The Irish Times)


Dr Tony Holohan

This morning.

In the Irish Examiner.

The newspaper’s health correspondent Catherine Shanahan reported:

The most senior Government health adviser attempted to block a review of CervicalCheck the day after Vicky Phelan called for an investigation into the screening programme.

Instead, Tony Holohan, Department of Health chief medical officer (CMO), urged the health minister to opt for a report which Dr Holohan himself would prepare.

He advised Simon Harris that the “appropriate way forward” was to “state that you have asked me to provide a report on the matter, including whether further actions or steps are required”.

His warning was issued the day after Ms Phelan stood on the steps of the High Court and said publicly that CervicalCheck had essentially failed her and she now had terminal cancer.

Her solicitor, Cian O’Carroll, also made public the discovery that other women had smears incorrectly read, and, like Ms Phelan, had not been told of an audit that discovered the errors.

…Dr Holohan warned the minister that to announce a review “could unnecessarily undermine public confidence in CervicalCheck” when there was “no evidence at this stage that there are quality or patient safety concerns with the CervicalCheck programme”.



Top medic tried to prevent Cervical Check review (Catherine Shanahan, The Irish Examiner)

Vicky Pelan


In the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Valerie Hanley reported that 92 women are suing the State over the CervicalCheck smear test scandal.

Ms Hanley also reported that 80 per cent of these cases have been lodged since Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan settled her High Court action against Clinical Pathology Laboratories in Austin, Texas, for €2.5 million, last April.

Vicky Phelan (Twitter)

92 women suing State over CervicalCheck smear tests misreading scandal (Valerie Hanley, Extra)

This morning.

At a meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Officials from the Department of Health and the HSE are giving an update to the committee on CervicalCheck – including Secretary General of the Department of Health Jim Breslin and HSE interim director general Anne O’Connor.

In the last few minutes, Ms O’Connor said:

A key risk to enable cervical screening to continue in Ireland was the extension of the laboratory contracts. The HSE has a signed agreement with one of the private providers and are working through the detail of a contract with a second provider with whom we have a heads of agreement.”

Watch proceedings live here

Almost 80,000 women waiting up to 27 weeks for smear test results – HSE (Jennifer Bray, The Irish Times)

From top: CervicalCheck logo; Dr Gabriel Scally; a letter a woman received on Monday informing her she needed to have a repeat smear test as a consequence of a test she had in the summer of 2016

Yesterday, we reported about the letters from the HSE sent out to 6,000 women informing them that they need to have a repeat smear test.

Their previous tests, some taken as far back as 2015 and which would have tested positive for low-grade abnormalities, were not subsequently tested within the recommended time limit for HPV by Quest Laboratories.

The HSE stated it was first notified of this issue with HPV testing at the end of November

A woman who received one of the letters, writes:

“Was Dr Scally [Dr Gabriel Scally, whose scoping inquiry of the CervicalCheck screening programme was published last September) aware of the 6,000 women when he made this recommendation: ‘The Scoping Inquiry considers there is no reason, on quality grounds, why the existing contracts for laboratory services should not continue until the new HPV testing regime has been introduced.'”


Previously: CervicalCheck: Two Lists

CervicalCheck And 6,000 Letters

CervicalCheck log; Mary Regan, of RTE

Last week, several matters emerged concerning the CervicalCheck programme.

One of these was that some 6,000 women were to be written to and advised to return to their GPs for repeat smear tests.

This is in relation to a cohort of women who would have and initially tested positive for low-grade abnormalities after having a smear and who would have then been advised to have an additional HPV test within 30 days of the initial smear test.

In the cases of 6,000 women, their additional smear test was tested by Quest Laboratories for the HPV virus beyond the 30-day limit.

[The practice of being advised to have an additional HPV test, on foot of a test showing up low-grade abnormalities, began in Ireland in 2015]

Further to this..

This afternoon.

In respect of these 6,000 women, Mary Regan, on RTE, reported:

Letters have been issued to those women today, and to their GPs, and they should receive them on Monday, advising them to go back for a repeat smear test.”


On Virgin Media One…

Previously: CervicalCheck: Two Lists