Upgrading of smear slides from negative ‘not an adverse event’

Woman would have found out audit’s findings ‘if she had chosen to ask us’, CervicalCheck manager says

Cervical Check programme manager John Gleeson is pictured at the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Cervical Check programme manager John Gleeson is pictured at the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts.


CervicalCheck programme manager John Gleeson has told the High Court that open disclosure requires an “adverse” event and the upgrading of results of a woman’s smear slides from negative was not considered as such.

Asked would Ruth Morrissey have found out about the audit review of her smears if another case, that of Vicky Phelan, had not happened, Mr Gleeson said: “If she had chosen to ask us”.

Mr Gleeson was giving evidence in Ms Morrissey’s case against the HSE and two US labs over alleged misreading of her smear slides in 2009 and 2012 under the CervicalCheck screening programme.

The court has heard that Ms Morrissey, who has cervical cancer, has a maximum two years to live. She did not find out until last May about the results of audits on her tests which showed they had been incorrectly reported as negative.

Mr Gleeson had written a letter to Ms Morrissey’s consultant in 2016 in relation to the audit results.

Mr Gleeson was asked on Tuesday about governance concerning Ms Morrissey’s 2009 and and 2012 smear slides as part of her claim for exemplary damages.


Patrick Treacy SC, for Ms Morrissey, asked Mr Gleeson if it was fair to say Ms Morrissey would not have found out about the audit’s findings had Ms Phelan’s case not been settled on April 25th last.

Mr Gleeson said he was correct as it was not an adverse incident, and open disclosure required an adverse incident.

When Mr Justice Kevin Cross asked Mr Gleeson was he saying it was not an adverse incident, Mr Gleeson replied: “No, we did not consider it an adverse incident.”

He added that the HSE was reviewing its open disclosure policy and he was sure there would be changes.

Mr Treacy asked Mr Gleeson about a letter Ms Morrissey’s treating consultant sent him last May asking questions about the reporting of the smear slides, when the audit results were made known and looking for feedback on the upgrading of the slides.

Mr Gleeson said he did not recall seeing the letter but it was stamped as having been received on June 1st last and passed on to the State Claims Agency lawyers.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey, of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick, have sued the HSE; US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd, with offices at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin; and Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.


It is claimed there was failure to correctly report and diagnose her smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012. It is claimed a situation developed where Ms Morrissey’s cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

Had Ms Morrissey had been told the results of the smear test audits, she would have insisted on an MRI and other scans, it is claimed.

The HSE has admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but not to her husband. The laboratories deny all claims.

The case continues.