Dr Gabriel Scally says key figures are distracted by Oireachtas appearances

The head of the inquiry into the CervicalCheck scandal has said the 'fevered atmosphere' around the situation may affect his investigation.

The admission is contained in new documents released by the Department of Health this evening.

In the documents, Dr Gabriel Scally said a number of key figures have been distracted by having to appear before Oireachtas committees.

The head of the Cervical Check scoping inquiry, Dr Gabriel Scally at the Royal College of Physicians, 08-05-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

In the memos, Dr Scally told the Secretary General of the Department of Health that he has met with Vicky Phelan and will shortly be requesting information from the parties involved in the investigation.

He warned however that in order to do his work he needs the full attention and co-operation of the key individuals involved in CervicalCheck, the Department of Health and the HSE.

Dr Scally said he was concerned the ‘fevered atmosphere’ surrounding the scandal may inhibit that. 

The Minister for Health Simon Harris addresses a Government press conference on the Cervical Check scandal, 11-05-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

The documents reveal that officials in the Department of Health were aware that information from an audit of smear tests at Ireland’s national screening service was not being passed on to the women affected or their doctors.

The records reveal that CervicalCheck told doctors to pass on information about the review of smear tests to patients as a general rule of thumb – but told doctors to use their own judgement in cases where it was felt revealing the outcome could do more harm than good.

In cases where a woman had died, doctors were advised to simply record the result in their notes.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister Simon Harris today received Cabinet approval to set up a new independent oversight board for the HSE.

The establishment of the board is a bid to streamline the management of the health service and offer a greater level of accountability.