Cork campaigner: Cervical test 'glitch' needs to be properly investigated 

Cork campaigner: Cervical test 'glitch' needs to be properly investigated 
Photo: Leah Farrell/

Cork campaigner Stephen Teap says further investigation is needed to find out why women weren’t informed that a technical fault had affected their Cervical Check tests.

Twenty-six women have been referred for further investigation. They tested positive for the HPV virus following a retest, after a Cervical Check IT glitch. It has been discovered in recent weeks that 850 women’s tests had been affected by the glitch. The kit used for their previous test was out of date.

On the retest, 50 of the 850 women tested positive for the HPV virus, which can cause cervical cancer, and 26 were referred for further investigation. The results of these retests were sent manually to the women’s GPs, but the women were not informed that the results had been returned, due to an IT glitch at the US-based lab in charge of the tests.

An independent review, which the HSE revealed it knew about in February, is to be conducted by Professor Brian MacCrait.

Speaking to The Echo, Cork man and spokesperson for the 221+ group, Stephen Teap, said the review needs to determine what happened, who knew, and when. “There was obviously a massive breakdown in communication again, somewhere along the line,” he said. “Women weren’t getting their results and we need to find out where and why that breakdown happened. This type of situation cannot be allowed to happen again.”

Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer of the HSE, said the women affected had shown “low-grade cytological changes”, which is at a very low risk of progression.

“That said, we want to apologise again to any woman that has been affected by this issue and we are continuing to keep in contact with them, in relation to what has happened and any action that they need to take,” he added.

“The delays in results being forwarded are not acceptable, and the HSE’s ongoing independent review into this incident will be investigating this in full detail.”

The issue came to light after a woman revealed she spent months sending queries to the HSE and Department of Health, seeking her results from a test last December. Eventually, the IT glitch was discovered. It has been suggested that the office of Health Minister, Simon Harris, was aware in June of the woman’s efforts.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly, said this sparks further questions over who knew what and when.

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