A meeting of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee at the Department of Health has ended, with one committee member describing it as a "frustrating encounter". 

The committee met for the first time since it was revealed by RTÉ News a week ago that an IT problem led to delayed results for around 800 women.

Speaking following the meeting, patient advocate and committee member Lorraine Walsh said that no real new information was learned today. 

Ms Walsh, who attended the meeting with Stephen Teap, said she found the meeting very emotional and was disappointed for women that they did not get answers.

Both are from the 221+ support group, and she said the group was reassured that the clinical risk was low in this instance.

Prior to the meeting, Ms Walsh and Mr Teap said they wanted to know from department and HSE officials on the committee who knew what, when and why they were not informed of the IT issue until a week ago.

The last meeting of the committee was on Wednesday 26 June.

The day before, on 25 June, the Department of Health had been made aware by the HSE of an IT issue in the case of Sharon, whose delayed results led to the controversy coming to light.

The 221+ patient advocates wanted to know why officials did not raise the development at that 26 June steering group meeting.

Following today's meeting, Ms Walsh said the system was lucky in this case, as it could have been a different story.

Mr Teap said they would be looking to the rapid review set up by the HSE to provide answers and would be meeting with the external independent chairperson, Professor Brian MacCraith later today.

He said that at today's meeting, they were told that all of the women affected will have been contacted by close of business today.

Taoiseach 'happy' to engage over formal apology

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he is "happy" to engage with people affected by the CervicalCheck crisis to discuss a formal apology, but said the initial engagement is between the Minister for Health and the support group.

Earlier, Ms Walsh said that the group heard nothing from Government on the promised apology. Both Ms Walsh and Mr Teap said that an apology was an important part of the healing process. 

"I haven't heard anything", Ms Walsh said. She also said that in mid June, Mr Varadkar said he would engage with the group on an apology.

She said she had been in contact with Minister Simon Harris and he said that he was in touch with Mr Varadkar, who would then be in contact, but this had not occurred.

The Taoiseach had previously apologised to women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy in May 2018.

When asked about the apology today, Mr Varadkar said that there have already been several apologies.

"Certainly I've apologised and the HSE has apologised as well, but I think what's being discussed now is a more formal apology in the Dáil. 

"I've asked Minister [Simon] Harris to engage with the support group on that because I want to make sure that the apology that we give is one that is adequate and one that is accepted."

Asked if he should engage personally with the support group members, he said: "I'm happy to do that but the initial engagement is happening between Minister Harris and the support group and he's the one that has built up that relationship and it's a very strong relationship."

The Taoiseach also said the IT problem "shouldn't have happened" and that patient representatives should have been informed "much earlier" than they were about the mistake.

"But it is something that's being resolved and will be resolved, I'm told by the end of this week, in terms of making sure that people get their test results."

After the original CervicalCheck controversy, the steering group was set up around June last year by Mr Harris "to provide oversight and assurance on the implementation of key decisions taken by Government in relation to CervicalCheck".

It includes Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer, senior officials from the HSE and the National Screening Service and three patient representatives.