CervicalCheck: Gabriel Scally says he has not been paid fees for work on inquiry

Scally says money paid to company he set up gone to medical experts, investigatory trips

Dr Gabriel Scally was appointed to carry out a scoping enquiry into the CervicalCheck screening programme. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Dr Gabriel Scally was appointed to carry out a scoping enquiry into the CervicalCheck screening programme. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

Dr Gabriel Scally has said he has not personally been paid any fees for his work leading the inquiry into the CervicalCheck scandal.

It had been reported in recent days that a company set up by Dr Scally had been paid €1.13 million for work on the CervicalCheck inquiry.

The company, Dr Scally’s Gabriel Scally Consultants Ltd, was paid €159,129 by the Department of Health last year, €445,843 in 2019, and €529,157 in 2018.

Speaking on Tuesday, Dr Scally clarified he had not yet been paid any fees for his work on the inquiry.

Dr Scally told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the fees paid to date have gone towards paying “a significant number of people,” including medical and legal experts, and investigatory trips to laboratories in the US.

He said there were still some outstanding payments, and was hopeful that they would all be paid this year.

“If anything is left then I might get something ... I’m not motivated by money. I don’t know how much will be left. It was an honour and a privilege to do it. I would have done it for nothing,” he said.

If there was any money left he said he would use it to support other projects in which he was involved, such as enquiries in Northern Ireland about the rights of patients. “That’s what the money goes for,” he said.

The CervicalCheck inquiry was set up in May 2018 after terminally ill Limerick woman, Vicky Phelan, settled her High Court case over incorrect smear test results for €2.5 million.

The case led to revelations that hundreds of women had not been informed of the results of audits of their cervical smear tests, which were carried out after they were diagnosed with cancer.

Dr Scally’s final report was critical of the screening programme, concluding “a whole-system failure” meant women were not told about subsequent audits which showed their past smear tests were incorrect.

Dr Scally explained that to carry out the work of the inquiry he had set up a company, which then invoiced the Department of Health as work was carried out.

“[Then-minister for health] Simon Harris wanted me to be fully independent and in order to do that I had to set up a company,” he said.

The information provided by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly in response to a parliamentary question about the cost of the inquiry had been factually correct, he said, but it could not be further from the truth that he was a millionaire.

“I wasn’t consulted before the stories were written, I would have gladly answered any questions,” he said.