The author of the 2018 report on CervicalCheck says he is "not entirely sure what is going on" but he has not been asked by Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly to step aside from his role in the inquiry into the screening programme. 

It follows reports that Dr Gabriel Scally had been "dumped" by the Department of Health.

Dr Scally said he does not know anything about this, that he does not feel he has completed his work and he is happy to continue with it.

"I haven't heard from Minister Donnelly, but I don't expect to hear from him because our understanding is quite clear: that I'm ready and willing to help in any way to implement the improvements that are needed." 

He told RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne that he submitted his last report in April 2020 and by-and-large progress has been very good, particularly by the Health Service Executive.

He said there are still some areas where progress in needed and progress in the Department of Health has not been so good.

He said that he has had recent informal discussions with the minister's office on some aspects of CervicalCheck and does not feel there is any barrier to further work.

Dr Scally said that a major priority around CervicalCheck is to get as many women as possible to continue attending for smear tests and the new HPV test.

He said trust needs to be built up so women continue coming to their appointments and he said he was really pleased to see that during the height of the CervicalCheck scandal, more women were coming forward for their tests.

He said he has no problem using the word "scandal" to describe the CervicalCheck controversy because of the way women were treated and not told the truth about their condition and that slides of Irish women were being sent from Manchester to Hawaii, where no meaningful quality assurance tests were being carried out.

When things go wrong with health services - in whatever respects - people want to know what went wrong and to hear an apology, Dr Scally said, adding that patients are "incredibly altruistic" and want to be assured that the same thing will not happen to someone else.

He added that a lot of problems would go away if these three things were done with grace and compassion. 

He said that he hoped the Patient Safety Bill will produce a requirement on doctors and healthcare professionals to tell patients the truth.