Over 4,000 CervicalCheck callers seeking call-back still waiting

Calls returned after check on records, data quality, and linking with health professionals – HSE

The HSE said there have been 9,766 call-back requests to CervicalCheck while about half of those have received a return call. File photograph: Getty Images

The HSE said there have been 9,766 call-back requests to CervicalCheck while about half of those have received a return call. File photograph: Getty Images

 

The CervicalCheck helpline has received over 15,480 calls to date.

The HSE said there have been 9,766 call-back requests, while as of Friday, 5,471 of those callers have received a return call. The average waiting time was 11 seconds, it said. Some 4,295 callers are awaiting a return call. 

“Calls are being returned to women following a careful exercise of checking records, checking data quality and assigning calls to health professionals,” the HSE said.

“The call-backs take a period of time as, in those cases where the person has a history of referral for colposcopy treatment or a history of cancer, we are providing a clinical consultation with a clinical staff member with expertise in colposcopy or cancer treatment.”

CervicalCheck has said women who have had normal screening results do not need a repeat smear test. It said it is currently in the process of providing information to GPs.

Free smear test

“If, after a consultation, you or your GP are concerned, you can have a free smear test under the CervicalCheck programme,” its website states.

The Government reached a deal last Friday with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) which will see GPs paid €50 for a consultation with women and €49 to carry out a repeat smear test.

The controversy over smear test results came to light due to the refusal of terminally ill Limerick women Vicky Phelan to sign a confidentially clause as part of a €2.5 million High Court settlement with US-based Clinical Pathology Laboratories, which missed her cervical cancer with a 2011 smear test carried out by CervicalCheck.

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cancer three years later, and a 2014 audit showing her original smear test to be inaccurate was withheld from her by CervicalCheck until September 2017. It subsequently emerged that 209 women had smear tests reviewed but were not informed of the outcome.

On Friday the Government announced a package of measures aimed at assisting the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris said nobody was immune from being held to account.

Mr Harris said nobody, including officials within his own department, the HSE and other agencies, would be spared.

“There are other people who work in the public service and civil service, in jobs that are also well remunerated that also have accountability,” he said.

Meanwhile, The Irish Times has learned the former Health Service Executive director general Tony O’Brien, who resigned on Thursday, will receive more than €140,000 on his departure from office.

It is understood Mr O’Brien will continue to be paid his regular salary up until the expiry of his contract at the end of July.