Simon Harris is being held to account for failing to tell the truth about the National Children’s Hospital. But there is an even bigger scandal – his failure to tell the truth about which US labs had the most false negatives on cervical cancer screen tests.
More importantly, he has done nothing to bring re-establish public run cytology labs in Ireland.
The High Court is currently hearing a case being taken against the HSE and Quest Laboratories in the US for the alleged misreading of smear slides in 2009 and 2012.
Cervical Check wrote to the woman’s consultant only in 2016 to reveal that an audit on the previous screen readings had shown them to be false.
But when asked why there had not been an open disclosure , the CervicalCheck programme manager stated that ‘it was not an adverse incident and open disclosure required an adverse incident.’
The reality is that the HSE and Cervical Check were under pressure from private firms to clamp down on information. An internal HSE memo, for example, stated that ‘one of the cytology laboratories has sought legal advice on the right of the programme to communicate audit outcomes’.
Quest was one of the first firms to win a contact from the then Minister Health Minister Mary Harney to carry out tests.
It had already been found guilty of repeated episodes of fraud in over billing. Several studies had shown that the detection rate for higher grade pre-cancers was low. But Harney –and after them Fine Gael – were committed to privatisation.
Harris and Varadkar should be thrown out of office for defending this privatisation programme.