Updated: 27/04/18 : 10:02:19
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Cervical test failures relates to 206 women

Further failures have emerged in the Cervical Check programme relating to more than 200 women who took part in the State's national screening programme.

The Health Service Executive has confirmed that 1,482 cases of cervical cancer were notified to Cervical Check since it started the national programme 10 years ago.

It said while in the majority of these cases there had been no need for further review, in around 30% of cases a review was warranted.

In almost half of those cases, earlier intervention was suggested.

It indicates that 206 women with cervical cancer who had undergone smear tests should have received earlier intervention.

It found that for 173 of those women, a referral to colposcopy might have been recommended earlier and for 33 cases a repeat smear might have been recommended to occur earlier.

This latest revelation comes in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding Vicky Phelan.

The mother-of-two was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear.

Earlier, this week she settled a High Court action for €2.5m against a US lab over her smear test.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has apologised to Ms Phelan, who is now terminally ill, and promised to take action to learn from what happened.

The minister and the HSE have agreed that a review of Cervical Check will be undertaken in order to ensure ongoing confidence in the programme.

Mr Harris announced this morning that he will go to Cabinet shortly with a proposal for patient safety legislation, which will include mandatory open disclosure of serious reportable events.

The Clinical Director of Cervical Check has said she cannot say for sure that all 206 patients have been contacted.

Professor Grainne Flannelly said they were making sure they were "going to close that audit loop and find out".

Speaking RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Prof Flannelly said that in all of the 206 cases the information was sent to the colposcopy clinic or the treating clinician.

She said her sense was that the patients had been told, but added she could not say for sure.

Prof Flannelly said screening has limitations and that there will be false negatives and false positives, but the programme had been set up along the lines of best practice to try to make it as good as it can be.