I thank Deputy Kelly for the question and for his work on this important issue in recent weeks and months.
I want to say first that in regard to the HSE as a whole, I do not believe the current governance structures are appropriate. I believe the HSE is far too bureaucratic and is not accountable enough. I believe we need to move quickly as an Oireachtas to put in place an independent board to improve governance and accountability and strengthen the oversight and performance of the HSE. We have known we needed to do that but the national screening programme has made that even clearer. What has arisen in regard to CervicalCheck has made that very clear as well.
I have now published a general scheme of the Bill. This will provide for a nine-person non-executive board, including a chairperson and a deputy chairperson. I want this board to include patient advocates as well. The board will have the authority to perform the HSE's function and will be accountable directly to the Minister of the day. The HSE will have a chief executive officer, CEO, rather than a director general, who will be accountable to the board for the performance of his or her functions. I look forward to working with the Deputy and other Members of the Oireachtas to bring this Bill through these Houses urgently. I have taken on board the Deputy's suggestion in regard to looking at appointing the chair of that board to have a role in the recruitment of the new CEO rather than doing it the other way around.
In regard to CervicalCheck in particular, I made my views very clear on a number of occasions that I was not happy and that I had serious concerns about the way this situation had been allowed to unfold. Recent events have shaken the confidence of many people in the programme. That is why I acted quickly and tried to act with colleagues across this House to put an independent inquiry in place.
The inquiry is led by Dr. Gabriel Scally, Professor of Public Health at the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol. I am aware that many of the people whose confidence in the CervicalCheck programme has been shaken are very happy with the way he is going about his work. He is working with an international expert on women’s health and will also be advised, as appropriate, by Dr. Hugh Annett and Professor Julia Verne. The Scally inquiry will examine all aspects of CervicalCheck and involve engagement with the women and families affected. The Deputy is aware that the terms of reference are very comprehensive and reflect the cross-party engagement. A website, scallyreview.ie, has been set up and went live on 23 May. It will enable the inquiry to communicate progress, including with the women and their families who have been impacted on.
Rather than being judge and jury, I want to await the outcome of the inquiry. Dr Scally is due to provide a progress report on his work in the first week of June. The full report is due by the end of June. I will make my adjudication on specific questions on the basis of the full report.
The Deputy is also aware that I have agreed to establish a commission of investigation. Serious lessons need to be learned. We have asked an international expert to come and get to the bottom of it; of who knew what, when and where and if people acted appropriately. I am satisfied to wait for those few weeks to let this international expert do his job, engage with the women and their families and report back to us.