Expert Panel Review of Cervical Screening

Last updated: 07/09/2018

The Minister for Health has established an independent Expert Panel Review of Cervical Screening as part of the investigation into issues relating to CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme.

The review will be carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in the UK, with expertise also sourced through the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology. 

The review will be conducted independently of the HSE. The HSE’s role in this process is to logistically support the Expert Panel in completing its work.

Purpose

The purpose of the review is to provide women who participated in CervicalCheck and who developed invasive or microinvasive cervical cancer with independent clinical assurance about the timing of their diagnosis and treatment.  The Expert Panel will endeavour to determine, wherever possible, any failures to prevent cancer or to intervene at an earlier stage.

The Expert Panel will prepare individual written summary reports for those women affected, setting out the facts and their expert and independent assessment of those facts.

A report will be made to the Minister for Health for publication when the review is complete. It will include recommendations, where appropriate, with the aim of improving care for women. 

Timeframe

The Expert Panel has indicated that it will take at least six months to review all the necessary information and to prepare an individual report for each woman whose case is reviewed.

Consent process

In light of the particular sensitivities surrounding this issue the CervicalCheck Steering Committee has decided that written, informed consent will be sought from women, or the next-of-kin of women who have passed away, before they are included in the review.  The Minister for Health established the CervicalCheck Steering Committee to provide oversight and assurance on the implementation of key decisions taken by Government in relation to CervicalCheck.

Approximately 1,800 women, or their next-of-kin in cases where women are deceased, will be contacted to ask if they wish to participate in the review.  Women whose cancer was notified to CervicalCheck or was registered with the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) at the beginning of May 2018 and who participated in the CervicalCheck screening programme will be included.

These women or next-of-kin will be provided with a consent form and also a patient information sheet from RCOG and answers to frequently asked questions. This is an independent review and the HSE will not be carrying out any of the review work.  As the holder of a woman’s data however, the HSE needs to ask for consent to provide the relevant information to the Expert Panel.

The consent process will be carried out on a phased basis over a number of weeks. Not everyone will receive their consent form at the same time as it will take time to ensure that we have the correct contact details for everyone and the time it takes will vary for each person.

In order to start the consent process, we will contact groups of people as their contact details and other personal data are confirmed.  We are prioritising women and families directly affected by the CervicalCheck audit and wrote to these individuals first. We are currently writing to the remaining cohort of women. 

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