WHSCT twice bid for ‘CervicalCheck’ work

The North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital.
The North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has refused to be drawn on why Altnagelvin lost out in a bid to secure work under the national cervical screening programme which is currently at the centre of a misdiagnosis controversy in the South.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has also said it can’t comment on the matter.

The Western Trust said it “tendered for ‘CervicalCheck’ work in 2007/08 and in 2018. On both occasions the Trust was unsuccessful in its bid.”

The ‘CervicalCheck’ contract has been under intense scrutiny since terminally ill Limerick woman, Vicky Phelan, settled a case with the US firm, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc., after a smear test result was incorrectly deemed to have been free from abnormalities in 2011.

Mr. Harris was quizzed about the programme by the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who asked him if “Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry, tendered for the CervicalCheck contract” and, why the “tender was unsuccessful”.

He stated: “This question relates to matters which are now the subject of a Scoping Inquiry. I announced the terms of reference of this Inquiry, following agreement by Government, on May 8, 2018.The Inquiry, led by Dr. Gabriel Scally, will examine the facts, including details of the non-disclosure to patients relating to CervicalCheck clinical audits and the management and level of knowledge of various parties including the HSE and the Department of Health.

“Dr. Scally will report to me by the end of next month setting out his findings.”

A spokesperson for the HSE, whose former Director General Tony O’Brien has resigned over the controversy, stated: “We are not in a position to respond to this query at this time.”

An audit of the programme revealed that hundreds of women have been affected.