No I won’t resign, top medic tells TDs
TONY Holohan, the State’s chief medical officer, brushed off calls to resign yesterday over the CervicalCheck scandal during a nine-hour Dáil public accounts committee meeting.
Dr Holohan, who advised then health minister Leo Varadkar against introducing mandatory disclosures in 2017, defended his decision not to inform him of the smear test controversy.
Asked if he should resign, he said: ‘If I was to say to the minister I was giving him a warning...that something would happen in six months, if I was to relay to a minister everything that I knew simply to be able to say after the fact I had told him, I don’t think I’d be doing my job.’
Dr Holohan said he had ‘no problem’ answering to the Scally Inquiry, which is setting the framework for a wider investigation, and would ‘welcome the accountability’ that would follow. ‘I’m very happy to answer for all of the judgments that I made,’ he said.
Jim Breslin, the secretary-general at the Department of Health, said had he known of the widespread scale of the non-disclosure involved he would have told the minister.
Interim HSE director-general John Connaghan told TDs: ‘If there is a requirement to hold individuals to account on a personal basis we will do so.’
He said CervicalCheck had failed to follow up with clinicians who received letters about the incorrect smear results to ensure they were informing the patients concerned.
Mr Connaghan said: ‘Indeed, it is not clear to me that the staff within the programme were aware of the scale of the difficulty in terms of the proportion of women who had not been communicated with.
‘The outcome was that a large proportion of women were not told about either the audit itself or the results for them as individuals.’