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Over 2,000 People Call CervicalCheck Helpline Over Three-Day Period

A special CervicalCheck Helpline, set up to address public concerns over the recent revelations that smear test results carried out in 2014 may have been incorrect, was inundated with calls from more than 2,000 people over the weekend.

The phoneline was launched on Saturday morning at 9am. A spokesperson for the Health Service Executive revealed that the service, established by the Serious Incident Management Team (SIMT) was extremely busy from the time it opened. He said: “The SIMT was informed that the helpline was once again very busy today. As of 1:30pm there were 614 contacts.”

This comes as it was revealed that Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris had directed a senior team to investigate CervicalCheck and review the cases of the 206 women impacted by the screening controversy. The team were ordered to examine each individual case to see if any of the women involved were made aware of the delayed diagnosis. Mr Harris also revealed that he has lost confidence in the Senior Management of the CervicalCheck group.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, speaking on RTÉ’s This Week stated that the Government has already moved to make changes to the system of reporting so that an incident like this will be avoided in the future. He said: “I think learning from this case, I think the Government will move forward on the recommendation of Minister Harris that in cases like this patients are entitled to information quickly. Sometimes it takes cases like Vicky Phelan’s cases to ensure policy change happens quickly”.

Head of CervicalCheck programme Gráinne Flannelly, resigned from her position over the weekend. This came in the aftermath of the case taken by Vicky Phelan due to an incorrect smear test result that was carried out in 2011. A 2014 audit by showed that the 2011 test was incorrect but Ms Phelan was not advised about this until September 2017, by which time the cancer had become terminal.

In January 2018 Ms Phelan was advised that she has less than 12 months to live. Last week she settled her High Court action against the US laboratory that carried out the smear test for €2.5m. In an interview with The Sunday Independent last weekend Ms Phelan also stated that, she was told in September 2017, that she was just one of ten women whose results were re-examined in 2014. When she asked if any of them had died, her doctor told her that he was aware of three who had passed away.