Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (428)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

428. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied with the way in which women and their families were treated as part of the review by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in cervical cancer cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51654/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

On Tuesday 3 December, the Aggregate Report of the Independent Clinical Expert Panel Review of CervicalCheck, carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK, was published following the Government meeting.

The first key objective of this Review was to provide women, or their next of kin, with independent clinical assurance about the timing of their diagnosis and treatment. An individual report was prepared for each woman. Significant planning and preparation took place to ensure that the process for communication of results to women and families was done in the most appropriate and sensitive way possible. This included providing all participants with options for how they might choose to receive their report, and providing the option for participants to have an independent advocate attend with them at a meeting about their report, if they chose to have one. The communication process began on 23 September, and all participants who wished to receive their individual reports did so in advance of the publication of the Aggregate Report.

A dedicated HSE Information Line for women and families who consented to participate in the RCOG review, which has been in operation since August 2018, continues in place. Queries to the information line, pertaining to the contents of individual reports, averaged less than five per day during November, the month during which the majority of the participants received their reports.

In May 2018, Government decided to offer a package of health and social care supports to women or their next of kin for whom the CervicalCheck audit had found a result that was discordant with their original result. At that time Government also decided this package would be made available to those identified as having discordant results through the RCOG process. This package of health and social care supports is being offered through dedicated Community Liaison Officers.

In recent weeks, some concerns have been raised in regard to the verification process carried out by the HSE to ensure that the correct report went to each participant, and in regard to the accuracy of reports. On foot of these concerns, the Expert Panel travelled to Dublin and met with patient representatives to explain the verification process and the rationale underpinning it to them.

Subsequently, both the HSE and RCOG have confirmed to the Department their confidence in the processes underpinning this review, and the participation of more than 1,000 women or their next of kin provides a robust and comprehensive analysis of the performance of the programme. The Expert Panel has noted that, should any women have any queries about the data in their reports, they are happy to investigate further and that throughout this process the objective has been to ensure that every woman received an accurate report. The HSE's Information Line also remains open if any woman has any outstanding queries or concerns.