The Minister for Health Simon Harris has today published the first findings of the Scally Inquiry, established into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme, and accepted their recommendations.
The findings are contained in two reports provided to the Minister by Dr Gabriel Scally – a report he has completed on one of the terms of reference and a progress report.
- The provision of an immediate ex gratia payment of €2,000 to each woman involved and to the next of kin of the deceased, recognising that it is important that women do not encounter any financial obstacles to participating and making their voices heard in relation to both the Scoping Inquiry and any resulting Commission of Inquiry.
- That a process be commenced to hold structured conversations with each of the women affected by the CervicalCheck issues who wish to have their experience documented, and with the relevant surviving family members of any affected woman who has died, if they so wish.
- The provision of a more comprehensive guide to the CervicalCheck screening programme online.
- That the information statements provided to women about the limitations of the tests should be more explicit about the possible reasons why screening might miss abnormalities that are present as these can result in the development of cervical cancer.
- That the information for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that they will have full and open access to their cervical screening record on request.
- That the information for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that should there be a problem or error of any significance with the screening or reporting process, open disclosure of all the details will take place in a timely, considerate and accurate manner.
“Following the approval of Government, I am making arrangements for the ex-gratia payment as recommended by Dr Scally. This payment relates to addressing any financial obstacles women might encounter in having their voices heard as part of his work. It would not be a bar to further payment in due course. I have also requested Dr Scally to identify arrangements that he could put in place as part of his inquiry to undertake the process of structured conversations.
“It should be noted that Dr Scally found that the provision of information to women in Ireland who take part in our screening service is comparable with that available elsewhere and in some respects, is better. He also found that the process of completing a consent form at the time of screening is a major strength of the Irish programme.
“However, he does make a number of important recommendations to improve the information provided to women, including strengthening the statements on the limitations of screening. I will immediately ask the HSE to implement the four recommendations related to this.
“When we set up this Inquiry I was very clear about the need to examine the facts and get answers quickly for Irish women, while also identifying issues that may merit a further full statutory investigation. I’m very pleased that Dr Scally’s work is progressing and he has already come to me with a list of recommendations which will improve the information provided to women who take part in our screening service and help support those who wish to participate in the Scally process. Dr Scally has assured me that he will continue to provide reports as they are completed so that we can continue to provide answers as soon as they are established.”
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith has expressed shock at the interim Scally report.
The TD said the key issues around outsourcing and the performance of the privatised screening process and labs had been relegated to later modules and ignored in the interim report.
“It is difficult to understand why seven weeks since I and others asked these questions we are still no nearer to getting the answers needed.The TD called for the inquiry to immediately release the figures on the detection rates from each of the labs concerned.
“I believe this will show that the political decision to outsource the service is the key to the tragic fate of these women.
“It is all well that the report concentrates on the information and lack of it been given to the women and of the actions of state agencies since that, but the key issue now is- are the detection rates in the private laboratories inferior to the previous public regime?
“Moreover I believe this information is readily available and it is not acceptable that it is not being released. The women affected deserve to know if the decision to outsource cervical screening was the source of missed detections of cancers.”