A group representing women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy has said it is "vital" that the recommendations by Dr Gabriel Scally are met.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, 221+ board member Lorraine Walsh said it was crucial that Dr Scally's recommendations on quality assurance and contracts going forward were implemented. 

She said that only then could women have confidence in the system in Ireland.

The second report of the Scally inquiry found wider outsourcing of screening tests, with 16 laboratories being used rather that the six that were originally identified.

Some of the those labs to which tests were outsourced no longer exist.

Ms Walsh said she was disturbed by the findings of the second report and said if Dr Scally's review had gone on longer, he could have found more labs involved.

She said given that Dr Scally could not visit some of the labs, he would not know whether they were suitable or not, and so the full answers would never be known.

She said for people like her and Vicky Phelan, their smear tests went to Texas but they will never know where they were actually read.

Ms Phelan was awarded €2.5m when she settled a High Court action last year with a US laboratory over the alleged misreading of her cervical cancer smear.

Ms Walsh said that for her, it is all about quality assurance and if Dr Scally's recommendations are implemented correctly, and a robust system is put in place, then women can have confidence.

She said the group have asked the Health Service Executive to state that from a clinical perspective it has confidence that slides going abroad are safe. 

She said the HSE has to nail its colours to the mast and declare that it is safe.


Read more: CervicalCheck outsourcing 'serious and unacceptable'


A spokesperson for the The Academy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine said she is surprised and disappointed by the findings in the Scally report.

Laboratory Manager at the National Maternity Hospital Marie Culliton said it is extraordinary to discover, that 16 months after the first problems arose, that there were 16 labs checking Irish smear tests and this outsourcing was unknown to the national cervical screening programme.

Speaking on the same programme, she welcomed the fact that there are no concerns over the quality of the testing, but said it is alarming that laboratories were not forthcoming about the outsourcing and that there was retrospective accreditation of one lab.

Ms Culliton said accreditation sets criteria as to how the laboratory should be structured and run but does not assess the quality of the work or the proficiency of the staff. 

She said this problem dates back to 2009 and it is not known whether there is "a cluster of error associated with any year, with any particular provider or, within those providers, with any of their individual laboratories or the staff within those".

She warned that Dr Scally's review could be the "tip of the iceberg" because we do not know how many women who have had smears reported as negative subsequently went on to have a positive smear and it was impossible to examine all of the tests that have been carried out.

Ms Culliton said errors happen for a number of reasons and these errors need to be investigated to ensure that they do not happen again, but this must happen in a safe space so that people do not feel "forever under pressure".