Published: Wed, May 02, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

Simon Harris advised to acknowledge Vicky Phelan's 'severe distress' in briefing note

Simon Harris advised to acknowledge Vicky Phelan's 'severe distress' in briefing note

The Department of Health have published the briefing note Simon Harris was given before Vicky Phelan's court case went ahead.

However, the Serious Incident Management Team (SIMT) sent into CervicalCheck since Vicky Phelan settled her case has today discovered that not all cases were examined.

Despite now being the head of the HSE which oversees CervicalCheck, Mr O'Brien has claimed he only learned of the Vicky Phelan case from media reports.

17 women have died but their cause of death is not yet known.

The HSE has invited all women on the programme, whose GP feels she should have a further test in the wake of the recent CervicalCheck controversy, after a number of women were not told in time that they had abnormal cells.

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Ms Phelan settled her case against a United States lab last week, after being wrongly informed in 2011 that she had the all clear.

Ms Phelan (43), from Limerick, was diagnosed with terminal cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear of abnormalities.

The HSE confirmed this week that of the 162, 17 women have died.

She added: "This is a massive patient safety issue".

The National Screening Service assured the Department of Heath that no quality issues has arisen in relation the USA laboratory that performed the 2011 test. So this memo, either people didn't know the extent of it, and I find that hard to believe or they just thought this was going to go away, to be honest, and that I wasn't going to preoceed.

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Mr Harris also said he is appointing an worldwide clinical panel.

A helpline, which has been established by the HSE, has received more than 6,000 calls.

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will be an inquiry into the controversy over the screenings.

That figure of 208 women affected now appears to be significantly higher. "But her courage and tenacity has done a great service to the women of Ireland and her actions will ultimately lead to improvements for all", he said.

Ms Phelan said she was contacted by the Taoiseach's press adviser on Tuesday evening asking to arrange a private meeting."I said yes, I would meet him in principle, but I'm trying to concentrate on my treatment which I have to go to this week and said that I would get back to him", she said. While insisting that cancer screening "does work", he acknowledged that there had been "appalling communication failures".

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