Deliberate government inaction is hampering the discovery of the truth about the cervical screening scandal.
Instead of making all the facts available, this PR obsessed government is trying to manage and postpone discovery.
Last year, lawyers for some of the victims of the misdiagnosis were told that a tribunal of inquiry would be established by the end of January, 2019. Yet there is no chance of this occurring until, at the earliest, 2020.
In the meantime, there are some facts that the HSE and Health Minister Simon Harris refuse to release.
Both of these know the pattern of misdiagnosis concerning 221 women that occurred in the private labs that were contracted to analyse slides.
The HSE entered a contract with Clinical Pathology Laboratories to carry out parts of the screening process. As a result slides from Ireland were dealt with by other laboratories in San Antonio and Victoria [both Texas], Honolulu [Hawaii], and Orlando [Florida].
The main reason for this outsourcing was to cheapen the costs.
The Irish state refused to take women’s health seriously enough to have the slides tested in a certified laboratory in Ireland with fully trained staff – so they privatised the service.
But to this day this still will not reveal which of the private labs had the highest rates of misdiagnosis or when exactly these misdiagnoses became known.
An internal memo from the HSE in March 2016 stated that ‘one of the cytology laboratories has sought legal advice on the right of the programme to communicate audit outcomes’.
A decent Minister of Health would discard all legal threats and all attempts to protect the reputation of the former Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, and reveal the truth about the rate of misdiagnosis in each private lab.
But Harris is refusing to do just this.