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Only four of 170 actions arising from Cervical Check inquiry left to be completed

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said there has been “considerable progress” on implementing the recommendations.

The funeral of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the women failed by the Cervical Check programme, passing Government Buildings in 2018
The funeral of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the women failed by the Cervical Check programme, passing Government Buildings in 2018
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

NEARLY ALL THE planned actions arising from a scoping inquiry into the failings of the CervicalCheck screening programme have been implemented, according to the Department of Health.

As of the end of 2021, 166 out of 170 actions have been completed, with the remaining four actions marked as being ‘in progress’.

The measures came out of the significant inquiry by Dr Gabriel Scally into Ireland’s CervicalCheck screening programme which failed to identify or notify more than 200 women of signs of cervical cancer in their smear tests.

Dr Scally’s report said there were many signs that the screening programme was “doomed to fail at some point” and that one of the biggest failings he identified was the non-disclosure of information from audits to patients.

Since then, quarterly reports have tracked the progress on implementing relevant changes in the healthcare system.

The progress report for the last three months of 2021 outlines that an additional two actions were implemented between the third and final quarter, increasing the completed steps from 164 to 166.  

Out of the four remaining actions, the Department of Health is responsible for two, the HSE is responsible for one, and the final one falls under the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI).

“These are the actions relating to the ongoing work programme of the NCRI; finalisation of actions within the HSE relating to document management and access to records; and, within the Department of Health, relating to the formal establishment of the Restoration of Trust Meetings process,” the progress report outlines.

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In a statement, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the report shows “considerable progress” made in implementing Dr Scally’s recommendations.

“Just four of the 170 actions arising now remain to be completed, and these are all in progress,” Donnelly said.

“I want to acknowledge the significant work completed so far by everyone involved in implementation, including the CervicalCheck Steering Committee, and the ongoing commitment to progressing these actions, promoting public trust and confidence in our screening services and achieving positive changes in our health system,” he said.

I recently asked Dr Gabriel Scally to conduct a final progress review of implementation of his recommendations, and this work is now underway. Progressing this final review is in line with our Programme for Government commitments, including the advancement of the women’s health agenda.

“I’d like to acknowledge Dr Scally’s continued commitment to this important work, which has already made a considerable contribution to developments in our health system and ensuring Ireland has a robust screening service, which will enable our progress towards the ultimate goal of elimination of cervical cancer.”

About the author:

Lauren Boland

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