I propose to take Questions Nos. 1190, 1191 and 1197 together.
Since 2010, as part of quality assurance measures, CervicalCheck reviewed the screening history of every woman notified to it as having a diagnosis of cervical cancer, who had previously been screened by the programme. The objective of audit and quality review at CervicalCheck was to facilitate continued improvement and ongoing learning within the programme. Following the issues which arose in relation to the non-disclosure of audit findings, a decision was taken to pause the audit. The Scoping Inquiry led by Dr Gabriel Scally made a number of recommendations, one of which was that “Audit should continue to be an important component of cervical screening as this complies with all good clinical practice. Common, robust and externally validated approaches to the design, conduct, evaluation and oversight of audits should be developed across the screening services.” (Recommendation 26).
As set out in the approved plan for the implementation of Dr Scally's recommendations, in order to address and implement this recommendation, the HSE established an Expert Group within the National Screening Service (NSS) to review the clinical audit processes for interval cancers across all screening programmes. This work is ongoing and is expected to be complete by the end of this year, following which recommendations will be implemented.
While the audit process carried out by CervicalCheck is paused, any person may seek their slides from a laboratory for independent review should they wish to do so.
It is important to emphasise that Dr Scally found no evidence to suggest deficiencies in screening quality in any laboratory. Cervical screening does not prevent all cases of cervical cancer and, unfortunately, some women will still develop cervical cancer despite regular screening. If 1,000 women are screened, about 20 women will have abnormal cervical cells. About 15 women will have these cells detected through screening. About five women will not have these cells detected through screening and may develop cervical cancer.