The Taoiseach has said a difficulty in finding some smear slides in laboratories has contributed to the delay in handing over medical records of women affected by the CervicalCheck cancer screening controversy.
Leo Varadkar acknowledged in the Dáil that the provision of medical records that have been requested by some women and their legal representatives had been slow.
But he said the screening programme was under “a lot of pressure trying to do lots of different things at the moment” and “additional staff are going into CervicalCheck”.
Some 209 women with cervical cancer were found to have received incorrect smear tests, in a clinical audit of past tests by the screening programme, after their cancer diagnoses.
The Taoiseach said it was “very much my wish and that of the Minister for Health and everyone in this Dáil that records and smears and anything that needs to be handed over, should be done without any further delay”.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the small number of records that had been released “have been altered and omit a number of important documents. This is absolutely unacceptable and files in the face of assurances given by you Taoiseach and your Minister that this would be handled with openness and transparency.”
She said that “more than three weeks after requesting access to their medical records and despite public and private assurances to the contrary some patients have still yet to receive those records”.
She said they had not been released because they had not been signed off on by HSE executive Damian McCallion, who is overseeing CervicalCheck and she called on the Taoiseach to act “with the utmost urgency”.