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Statement by Minister for Health

Mr Stephen Donnelly, TD, Minister for Health, today welcomed the publication of Dr Gabriel Scally’s Final Review of the implementation of his Scoping Inquiry recommendations. 

“Dr Gabriel Scally has made an immense contribution to women’s health and to the improvement of cervical screening in Ireland. His Scoping Inquiry will, I believe, be looked back upon as a seminal moment in the history of Irish healthcare and will rightly be credited with improving the lives of generations of women in the future. 

Dr Scally’s work is noteworthy for his commitment to involving patients and for his determination in ensuring that their voices are heard. The work of patient advocates, including 221+, in facilitating that engagement has been crucial and I want to acknowledge their role also.

I am pleased to see Dr Scally’s positive commentary on the considerable improvements that have been made to our CervicalCheck screening programme, including better governance, the move to HPV primary screening and the Quality Assurance system now in place for laboratory services.

I’d like to acknowledge Dr Scally’s concerns around open disclosure. Honesty and transparency are vital in healthcare and should be embedded in the culture of the health service. Patients and carers have the right to know when mistakes are made, what the consequences are, or may be, and what action has been taken not only to correct mistakes but to prevent similar occurrences in the future. 

The Patient Safety (Notifiable Patient Safety Incidents) Bill 2019 provides a legislative framework for a number of important patient safety issues, including mandatory open disclosure and the expansion of HIQA’s remit into private hospital services. 

With the use of HPV primary screening and the increased availability of the HPV vaccine we can eliminate cervical cancer within our lifetime.

I am determined, as I know all involved in the provision of women’s healthcare are, to make that aspiration a reality.”