A member of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee has said it was "really disappointing" to find out that more than 4,000 women have not got their smear results.

Cervical cancer survivor Lorraine Walsh said it was not very reassuring for the women of Ireland to think that the smear system and the CervicalCheck programme had not got things under control.

Ms Walsh, who is a patient representative on the steering committee, said she had a conversation with HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid this morning.

She said she asked him for absolute clarity on a date when all of these women would definitively have results and their GPs will have those results.

He had assured her that that would happen by the end of next week, she said.

However, she said it was terrible to think that they were still going over the problems that they had when Dr Gabriel Scally published his report on CervicalCheck last year.

Ms Walsh said one of the things that she was happy about was that there are going to be some key appointments made, including a CEO and a new programme manager within CervicalCheck, which she said was well over time.

She said it was really important that we realise that the problems had been solved, the IT problem had been fixed, and that women would be getting the letters they were supposed to get a couple of months ago.

Ms Walsh said it was a little too late, but the backlog would now be cleared in the next two weeks, which was reassuring.

Prof MacCraith's report had highlighted some severe communications issues within the HSE and between the HSE and the Department of Health, she said.

She said it very clearly came out that the department and the HSE did not discuss the matter from 25 June up to 10 July.

There was no discussion whatsoever, she said, despite the fact that the HSE had written to 800 women to tell them that there was a problem, but they had not updated the department.

She said that she found it quite concerning that the communications flow was not happening.


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Meanwhile, the Labour Party's health spokesman has said the report highlighted the fractured relationship between the Department of Health and patient advocates.

In a statement, Alan Kelly asked why the Department and the HSE are keeping these people "at an arm's length?".

He said that many of the recommendations of today's report were also contained in reports published by Dr Scally in September 2018 and March of this year.

"It shows the slow, minimal rate of progress that the Department of Health and the HSE have undertaken to transform the CervicalCheck screening programme," Mr Kelly said.

Sinn Féin's spokesperson for health said the latest review showed that nothing had been learnt from the crisis to date.

Louise O'Reilly said it beggared belief that quality assurance was not carried out when adding a new laboratory to the screening programme.

Fianna Fáil's health spokesperson said he is flabbergasted that a conscious decision could be taken not to communicate with women about their tests.

Stephen Donnelly said it is outrageous and incomprehensible that communications failures could be allowed to develop again.

He said the "latest debacle" surrounding the use of a laboratory which did not have a risk assessment carried out stems from Minister for Health Simon Harris's decision to offer repeat out-of-cycle smear tests when the crisis broke last April.