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DCU president to lead HSE's 'rapid review' into IT glitch that left 800 without smear test results

Simon Harris said he was not made aware of the IT glitch until last Wednesday.

Professor Brian, MacCraith, President of Dublin City University.
Professor Brian, MacCraith, President of Dublin City University.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE PRESIDENT OF DCU is to lead an “immediate rapid review”, commissioned by the HSE, into the latest Cervical Check controversy. 

Professor Brian MacCraith was appointed as the independent external chairperson for the review after it emerged that 800 women did not receive their smear test results because of an IT glitch at a US lab. 

The HSE said that MacCraith will carry out the review independently and provide a report to the HSE’s CEO Paul Reid by 2 August. 

“We have worked hard to try to rebuild confidence in the cervical screening programme in Ireland, and the delays identified in recent days in providing results to women are not acceptable,” Reid said. 

The review is to examine all aspects of the glitch, “with a particular focus on how these matters were communicated to the women using our service”.

The HSE said it became aware in June that a number of result letters were not issued to women or their GPs due to an IT process issue with one Quest Diagnostics laboratory. 

The issue occurred at Quest Diagnostics Chantilly facility in Virginia, USA which currently performs HPV testing for the CervicalCheck service.

Speaking to reporters today, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he was not made aware of the IT glitch until last Wednesday adding that it was important the HSE carries out this external review.

“Clearly, there was a communications issue here where they believed laboratories had conveyed results to GPs and to women, and that had not happened.

“And that is not acceptable. I know it’s not acceptable to the CEO of the HSE and it’s not acceptable to me either,” he said. 

Speaking previously in the Seanad, during a debate on a Bill to establish the CervicalCheck tribunal, Harris said the existence of an IT issue “was identified following an engagement by my department in June with the National Training Service based on representations from one individual”. 

Minister Harris said a lot of progress has been made in dealing with the backlog of smear tests.

He said the backlog would be “effectively gone” by mid-September when the Dáil and Seanad resume after the summer recess.

Areas to be covered by the review:

  • To determine the complete chronology of events from the time the IT issues first emerged up to the public reporting of these issues on the 11 July.
  • To establish the agreed process for the communication of results to women and their GPs, how this was planned and managed and how this process worked in practice.
  • To determine the adequacy of the response put in place once these issues emerged and to determine where and what the learning is for the management and communication processes within and from the Screening Programmes.
  • To determine if the relevant procedures as set out in the HSE’s Incident Management Framework and Integrated Risk Management policy were followed and implemented.
  • To examine the appropriateness of the escalation and if, how and when the communication of the incident within the HSE’s governance structures and between the HSE and the Department of Health, and the relevant Cervical Check committee structures was managed.
  • To provide a report to the HSE’s CEO setting out the facts relating to the incident and to make recommendations for any appropriate further actions and future learning.

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Adam Daly

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