HSE chief says people will be held to account over CervicalCheck scandal

Interim head of HSE apologises to women affected by smear test controversy

John Connaghan apologised on behalf of the HSE and the CervicalCheck programme. Photograph: HSE.ie/Youtube

If there is a requirement to hold individuals to account personally arising from the cervical screening controversy, it will happen, the new interim head of the HSE has said.

John Connaghan apologised on behalf of the HSE and the CervicalCheck programme to all those directly affected and to women in general across Ireland who he said were "understandably frightened and concerned by what they have read and heard".

He told the Oireachtas health committee that the HSE would learn lessons from the events of recent weeks " not least the ability to say sorry".

He said the process for how the CervicalCheck programme intended to communicate the results of audits to patients was developed with the best intentions with a view to ensuring that women would receive the results.


“The failure - our collective failure - was on ensuring effective follow through on these good intentions.

“While the results of the audits were communicated to the relevant clinicians, the arrangements thereafter appear to have broken down.”

He said as a result a large proportion of women were not told either about the audits or their individual results.

“The impact of this failure has been profound both for every single woman affected and their families. It has also undoubtedly caused significant levels of fear and anxiety for the wider population of women living in Ireland .

“And it has sadly undermined public confidence in the Cervical Check programme,” Mr Connaghan said.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent