Thursday 23 January 2020

HSE says sorry to 4,000 women hit by smear test glitch

HSE chief Paul Reid
HSE chief Paul Reid

HSE director general Paul Reid has apologised to more than 4,000 women affected by an IT glitch that denied them their test results for HPV.

It was originally thought that 800 women were affected, but it is now understood the figure is more than five times that.

A total of 4,088 women were left in the dark after an IT failure and human error led to mistakes in the distribution of results from the US-based Quest Diagnostics laboratory.


Some of the women still do not know they have been affected by the malfunction. They will receive letters over the coming days.

The HSE made a number of announcements in the wake of the publication of Prof Brian MacCraith's report yesterday.

He found that in the case of 873 women, no results were sent to them or their GP.

In the remaining 3,215 cases, the results were sent to GPs but not to the women themselves.

Mr Reid offered "a sincere and genuine apology for all the concern that has been caused".

"The HSE wishes to reiterate its apology to all the women impacted by the delays in issuing important information to them," he said.

Acting on Prof MacCraith's recommendations, a new smear-test tracking system will be introduced that will allow patients to know what stage their test is at. There will also be a new structure for Cervical- Check.

Internal audits will also be enforced for Quest Systems, where the IT glitch happened.

The development of a national cervical screening centre in the Coombe Hospital will also continue to be accelerated.

Mr Reid added that the organisation was "developing a culture of putting women first".

The HSE also said it would strengthen the management, organisation, resourcing and capability of the CervicalCheck programme.

This will start with the selection process for a new chief executive for screening programmes and the immediate appointment of Celine Fitzgerald as interim chief.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had confidence in CervicalCheck, adding that screening had saved many lives. However, he added that screening could not pick up all abnormalities.

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