The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said that the thoroughness and quality of its review of over 1,000 CervicalCheck slides, combined with the full disclosure of the findings, means that women can have confidence in their individual reports.

Professor Henry Kitchener, Lead Assessor of the review, told the Oireachtas Health Committee that it is acutely aware of the impact that screening failures have had on the lives of affected women and their families. 

However, he said that the reports were not a judgment with respect to medical negligence.

He said that the RCOG wanted to recognise the 103 women in their review of slides who had died and will neither be able to read their individual report or the recently published overall review report on over 1,000 slides.

Professor Kitchener said the RCOG would be concerned if "unfounded criticism" of its evidence-based report undermined trust in its findings and confidence in the CervicalCheck programme.  

Yesterday before the Committee, patient advocates Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap raises issues about inaccuracies during the RCOG review and its conclusions and noted that only about half of the women affected consented to participate in it.

Today, Prof Kitchener said the review was complex, large and the small number of errors - fewer than five - were rectified when new information came to light.

He said that while the isolated incidents were regrettable they in no way impact on the overall conclusions or recommendations in the overall report.

Prof Kitchener said that the role of the review was not to assess the performance of the CervicalCheck laboratories.

It did find that the CervicalCheck service was working effectively.

Yesterday at the committee, Mr Teap also raised concerns as to whether the Scally Recommendations would be fully implemented.

Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, told the committee that the service has moved in the last 18 months from a period of crisis, to a more stable environment.

Damien McCallion, HSE Interim National Director, told the committee, said that the turnaround times for CervicalCheck Screening results are now running at an average of six weeks.

He said that the HSE hopes to sustain the turnaround times at this level in the future to ensure that women and their GPs get their results in a reasonable time period.

He said that at the end of November, a total of 95 actions have been completed, from the 116 recommendations made by Dr Gabriel Scally in his reports into the CervicalCheck crisis.

Mr McCallion said that a review of the organisation and design of the National Screening service has been completed and the permanent position of a CEO has been advertised.

He said that colposcopy services remain under pressure, with increased referrals and the requirement for increased consultation time.

Mr McCallion said that the HSE was very conscious of how difficult the review process of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was for women and their families who participated.

He said that the HSE will continue to provide meetings where required and an information line for women and families involved.

TD Alan Kelly, Labour Party health spokesperson, said there was a serious issue when key patient advocates had expressed no confidence in the RCOG report.

He said that Prof Kitchener's comments about unfounded criticism were unfortunate, given the matters documents by Ms Walsh and her harrowing evidence before the committee yesterday.

Mr Kelly said he had no issue with the RCOG clinical analysis but did have an issue with the statistical analysis. 

Dr Holohan said that the Department of Health had full confidence in the RCOG report and the process.

He also said that the department viewed the role of patient advocates as very important and wanted to pay tribute to them.

Mr Kelly said it was amazing that in the case of two of the most well-known women in Ireland, relating the CervicalCheck crisis, Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh, their slides were mislabelled.

He asked how it could happen in the case of these two women from the 1,038 reviewed.

Prof Kitchener said it was a "remarkable coincidence" but that it took place after the completion of the review and had no impact on the report.