Memos suggest that 280 women may be affected
CONTROVERSIAL HSE memos released this week appear to suggest that the cervical cancer false negative scandal could involve 280 women – a much higher number than currently in the public domain.
Three briefing notes on the CervicalCheck audit by the HSE that were provided to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee earlier this week, paint a chaotic picture of a service struggling to comprehend the gravity of the situation.
Two of the briefing notes, both from July 2016, give different tallies in relation to the number of affected women.
The first of the July briefing notes says that 56 letters have already been sent out, and a further 200 are due to be sent out in July/August of 2016.
The memo states: ‘To date, a total of 56 letters have been issued to treating clinicians for cases where cytology was reviewed and a further 200 letters will issue during July/ August where cytology was reviewed.
‘This will complete the communication of all historic cases in the early years of the screening programme (September 2008 – 2014).’
Given the volume of letters that will be issued over the coming weeks, it is possible that individual cases could appear in the public domain.
However, the second briefing note from July 2016 on the update of the cervical cancer clinical audit process shows that the figure has escalated even further to potentially 286.
‘To date, a total of 86 letters have been issued to treating clinicians for cases where cytology was reviewed and a further approximately 200 letters will issue during July/August 2016 where cytology was reviewed.’
This final approximated figure would encompass all historic cases undertaken as part of the audit, according to the briefing note – an unexplained rise since the previous memo.
‘This will complete the communication of all historic cases for the early years of the screening programme (September 2008 – 2014) in addition to recent cases (2015 – 2016) as the review findings become available,’ the briefing note says.
When contacted by the Irish Mail on Sunday on Friday about the discrepancies in the figures, and asked whether the actual figure of women impacted was higher than the 209 currently in the public domain, the HSE responded: ‘These issues will be explored under the auspices of the Scally Review, with which the HSE will be cooperating fully.’
The MoS contacted the HSE again yesterday about the discrepancy but a spokesman was unable to provide any further clarity.
‘I can’t give any more of an update to you than was given yesterday,’ the spokesman said.