Louth TD calls for an Independent Patient Safety Authority to be implemented in HSE

"What happened in the current Cervical Check scandal is utterly unforgivable"

Tia Clarke


Tia Clarke



Declan Breathnach

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach spoke in the Dáil this week on the CervicalCheck scandal and said that we need to ensure the best possible outcome for every single patient in this country, and where errors occur, our health service needs to be upfront and honest and inform the patient of the error at the earliest possible opportunity.  

The Louth TD said: “What happened in the current Cervical Check scandal is utterly unforgivable.  All these women had been given reports that they were clear and not at risk. 

"When this was found not to be the case, an audit was carried out which was the correct thing to do.  Best practice requires that where screening tests failed to identify risk, that you look back and try to understand what happened and why."   

In a statement, the local TD went on to say that it was "disgraceful" that the Medical Director of Cervical Check decided: 

"• The next of kin of those that died were not to be told of the error;
• Women under treatment for cancer and attending with Consultants were not to be told;
• This non-disclosure went on until one consultant engaged with his clinical director and hospital group CEO which led to the involvement of the Chief Consultant at the HSE who then advised that all the women and their next of kin were to be told the full story;
• However, the reporting of the errors to GPs and Consultants suffered further delays in 2016.
• 209 women in all were affected.
• If it were not for Vicky Phelan’s case which exposed the appalling clinical management decisions and failure to communicate with patients and their families, these women would still be left in the dark as to the truth of their current circumstances." 

Breathnach added: “These are the facts.  A major overhaul is required in clinical governance and clinical management in the HSE.  Political point-scoring is not helpful here.  

"The Minister for Health needs a team of medically trained people in charge of the HSE, to include top consultants and physicians in all sectors and also including a clinical nursing manager.  What we currently have managing the HSE are people with management qualifications, and most likely qualified in Crisis Management." 

The Louth TD called for an "Independent Patient Safety Authority" to be implemented immediately. 

He added: "We need medically trained managers, who know what it is like to work at the coal-face of our health system and who know what they are talking about.  We need to set up on a statutory basis an Independent Patient Safety Authority, with full mandatory disclosure and a duty of candour. This in addition to passing the Patient Safety (Licensing) Bill, as licensing of all health facilities is essential.

“Let us all agree to this, and ensure that something like this never happens again.”