State will pay for repeat smear tests for women, Health Minister confirms

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Health Minister Simon Harris said yesterday he now can not have confidence in the managers of the screening programme.

It emerged late on Thursday that 206 women were wrongly given the all-clear on smear tests that showed abnormalities and required further testing.

She was responding to comments by CervicalCheck clinical director Dr Grainne Flannelly, who said she could not be sure all of the women have yet been told about their reports.

Ms Phelan, of Carrigeen, Annacotty, Co Limerick along with her husband Jim Phelan has sued the Health Service Executive and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, over a smear test taken under the National Cervical Screening Programme CervicalCheck and analysed in the USA laboratory.

'These arrangements will be confirmed next week'.

Minister called the problem a "technical glitch" on Twitter adding that it was "the last thing anyone needed, I know".

Speaking outside the court afterwards, Ms Phelan said there were no winners in the proceedings.

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Mrs Phelan was given just six months to live recently.

This morning, Mr. J Kevin Cross was told the case against the lab had been settled for €2.5m with no admission of liability and the case against the HSE could be struck out.

"The CervicalCheck Programme would like to apologise to those women who were trying to contact the helpline between 9am and 1030am", the HSE said in a statement this afternoon. On Saturday, RTE News reported that some of these 206 women had since passed away.

Mr Harris said: 'I could not express confidence in the way in which CervicalCheck is being run in recent days, because there has been an inability to assure women and reassure women of their situation'.

Health Minister Simon Harris said that women who may need re-tests will be "facilitated".

'What I read today of letters going backwards and forwards: Whether to tell a woman?

The Health Department has also appointed a senior medical team to take charge of the programme, amid controversy surrounding the service's management.