Simon Harris advised to acknowledge Vicky Phelan's 'severe distress' in briefing note

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The HSE has confirmed that of the 208 women who were affected by the screening controversy, 17 of those women died.

In a statement posted to their website, the society began by sharing their sympathies following the announcement that 17 women who had been affected by the smear test controversy have died.

In 175 of the 208 cases, a different treatment should have been given when the original smear was re-read by the review team.

Last week Vicky Phelan, who's now terminally ill, settled a case with the American lab who had found no anomalies in her 2011 smear test.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said there will be an inquiry into the controversy.

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

It means some 162 women did not know there might be a problem with their cancer check.

It has also been revealed that a helpline for women concerned about this matter has now received 6,000 calls.

It’s not common for women under 25 to develop cervical cancer but it does happen,’ says Heather Keating
It’s not common for women under 25 to develop cervical cancer but it does happen,’ says Heather Keating

The Taoiseach has also said he cannot rule out a Commission of Investigation into why women weren't told their cancer checks were being audited - but warned it could take years if it went to that.

Addressing the Dáil this evening, Harris said: "While CervicalCheck has audited all cases notified to it, I have been informed that a potentially considerable number of cases will not have been subjected to an audit of their screening history". "But her courage and tenacity has done a great service to the women of Ireland and her actions will ultimately lead to improvements for all", he said.

More than 2,000 women have called the CervicalCheck helpline over the weekend.

It also informs the minister that more recently: "women are informed of this audit process and they have the option to request information on the outcomes of these reviews, which are sent to the treating doctor for discussion with the patient".

Patrick Lynch said the women were entitled to know there was a review of their case and the result.

"I acknowledge the very hard circumstances that Ms Phelan and her family are now in, and I would like to thank her for her bravery in bringing this to light".

"We must do all we can to ensure that women continue to attend for smear testing".

"We need to deal with the bombshell you are just having dropping in here today", he said.

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