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New Cervical Check Scoping Inquiry Deadlines Unacceptable, Harris Must Act

12 June 2018

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health

Labour spokesperson on Health Alan Kelly has expressed grave concerns about the first report from the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck screening programme, saying it is taking too long, and has not addressed the terms of reference, and that responsibility rests with the Minister and Government in ensuring the women affected get answers quickly.

Deputy Kelly said:

"The first report of the Scoping Inquiry published today only really addressed point (d) of the Terms of Reference. There are ten distinct terms of reference. The interim report should have had some key findings but it has nothing material outside of the need to change information provision to women participating in cervical screening, which we all know was necessary anyway.

"I have grave concerns about how long this will now take. This Inquiry was intended to scope out the issues to provide the basis for a Commission of Inquiry and report by the end of June. The sad reality is that in some cases women don’t have time and can't afford this government to be missing deadlines. I also would have expected more women to have been met with and consulted by now.

"It is clear to me that we will not see a full report until the autumn at least at this stage and that is unacceptable.

"I respect and acknowledge the expertise and skill of Dr Gabriel Scally, but the detail being examined is not of a scoping nature, but more like a full and in depth inquiry. Dr Scally has now reconstituted his work into modules. The Dáil decided the terms of reference and the timelines. He cannot unilaterally change these.

"I have been clear from the beginning for the need for a full Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of this. The Minister for Health and the Government is responsible for the current plan of action. Mr. Scally has through the terms of reference the capacity to make key findings quickly but he has not done so. He needs to and then allow the Commission to do its work.

"The €2,000 payment announced today is paltry compared to the costs, treatments, supports and additional services many of the women affected now need.

"The Minister for Health committed to me in the Dáil a fortnight ago that any bureaucratic hurdles faced by women regarding getting access to their records would be addressed so it is very disturbing that Scally reports that organisations are not providing full documentation to Dr Scally and in an electronic format as he has requested. 

“It is also very apparent to me that the women impacted and their families have not been provided with their own personal medical records. I have been inundated with cases where this is happening and this is absolutely unacceptable.”