Simon Harris was told Vicky Phelan's case wasn't considered a patient safety issue

A potentially considerable number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer havent't had their tests audited, according to the health minister.

Simon Harris told the Dáil that the numbers revealed so far this week may not be the full picture.

It means there could be many more women who should have had their initial smear tests acted on.

Minister Simon Harris told the Dáil more tests by CervicalCheck may need to be audited.

"Whilst I had previously been advised, and it had been commonly understood, that Cervical Check clinic audit covered all cases notified to the National Cancer Registry, I have been informed this afternoon that this is not the case.

"While Cervical Check has audited all cases notified to it, I have been informed that a potentially considerable number of cases will not have been subjected to audit of their screening history."

Health Minister Simon Harris has addressed the Dáil | Image: Oireachtas screenshot

In a statement, the HSE said: "The HSE Serious Incident Management Team (SIMT) has been working to uncover the details of what occurred in recent days and will continue to do so as the situation evolves.

"At this point it is clear that there has been a very serious breakdown in communicating to the women concerned that this audit was happening, and the outcomes of the audit.

"All those affected, who were not previously made aware of this, are now being contacted."

Women who have about their case can contact the CervicalCheck information phone line on 1800-45-45-55.

"They will be able to check the audit records for you and let you know if you are affected," the HSE added.

Meanwhile Mr Harris was told Vicky Phelan's case was not considered a patient safety issue by the National Screening Service.

The Department of Health has published the briefing note Mr Harris was given before Vicky Phelan's court case went ahead.

Minister Harris was given a briefing note on Vicky Phelan's case on April 16th - three days before it went to court.

It noted attempts to get her to sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of a settlement which would have meant none of this would come to light.

The document also suggested that women who had their cases audited were being informed and had the right to request information.

The briefing says the Department was advised this case was not a patient safety incident - but rather a limit in the current methods of screening, which they say produces a "not insignificant" number of false negative results.

It also says no quality issues have arisen with regard to the US lab examining smear tests.

Mr Harris was given media advice for how to comment on the case when it went through court or settled, being told to acknowledge the severe distress this case had put on Vicky Phelan and her family.