Answers needed after Scally removed from oversight of Cervical Check recommendations

Alan Kelly TD
24 February 2021

After reports today of a lack of trust in screening programmes, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly called for an explanation from the government on why Dr Gabriel Scally has been dumped from oversight of the implementation of his recommendations on Cervical Check. This was revealed after PQs tabled by Deputy Kelly.

Alan said:

“I am shocked that Dr Gabriel Scally has been dumped by the Department of Health from oversight of the implementation of the outstanding actions and recommendations of his report on Cervical Check. There are 22 out of 170 actions arising from the his recommendations still to be implemented. This was confirmed in response to Dáil questions I tabled last week.

“The previous Minister for Health Simon Harris had confirmed that Dr Scally would continue even through the pandemic so we need answers. I understand he had asked him to continue his work, and the implementation of the recommendations isn’t finished.

“This has emerged on the same day that there are concerns from within Cervical Check that because of a lack of trust in screening programmes women aren’t engaging enough with this vital public health initiative. I am really concerned about comments that women aren’t turning up, and that the level of screening last year was 100,000 lower than expected. We need a process to restore trust and confidence.

“Dr Scally had played a vital role in that process but is no longer being retained by the Department. We need an explanation from the Minister as to why he has dispensed with the services of Dr Scally when he himself has recommended that the progress on implementation should be subject to regular review.

“The Cervical Check Steering Committee just met recently and hadn’t been informed of this. There is a deep concern amongst patient advocates about pathway changes implemented in relation to cervical screening recently.

“We need to know who made this decision, and why Dr Scally was removed.”

ENDS

Dáil Questions below from 17th February 2021.

To ask the Minister for Health the number of the recommendations of the Scally Report that have been implemented; if an itemised list will be provided of the recommendations that have been completed and the expected completion date of recommendations yet to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Alan Kelly TD

Reply:
The Government has accepted all 50 recommendations made in Dr Scally’s Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Programme, which was published on 12 September 2018. An implementation plan for all recommendations was published on 11 December 2018 on the website of the Department of Health.

The Implementation Plan was revised to take account of the formal observations submitted by Dr Gabriel Scally on 26 February 2019 and the then Minister approved the revised Plan on 21 May 2019. A further revision of the Implementation Plan took place to encompass the two further recommendations identified by Dr Scally in the Supplementary Report, which was approved on 11 June 2019. A small number of further actions were incorporated into the Plan.

Quarterly progress reports on implementation are published on the Department of Health website since Q1 2019. The Q4 2020 report will be published this week.

As of the end of 2020, there were 148 of 170 actions, arising from the 58 recommendations, completed.

There has been significant progress in implementing the recommendations, with just 22 of 170 actions now remaining to be completed.  Of the outstanding 22 actions,  12 are marked ‘in progress’, 8 are marked as ‘overdue to finish’ or and 2 ‘overdue to start’ at end 2020. The published action plan details the stage this work is at.   The actions marked ‘overdue to start’ relate to ongoing work in the HSE on document management, and the NCRI on the development of data systems, which are dependent on other linked actions being completed first. The COVID-19 situation throughout 2020 impacted on the progress of some of the actions.

Work will continue in 2021 to continue to progress, and/or complete, the remaining actions. Quarterly progress reports will continue to be published on the Department of Health website.

To ask the Minister for Health if his Department is still retaining the services of a person (details supplied) to oversee work on the recommendations of the Scally Report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) Dr. Gabriel Scally. Alan Kelly TD.

Reply: The Government accepted all 50 recommendations made in Dr Scally’s Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Programme, which was published on 12 September 2018.

An implementation plan was published in December 2018 on the Department of Health website. The Minister for Health requested Dr Scally to undertake an independent review of the Implementation Plan.  The Implementation Plan was revised to take account of further formal observations submitted by Dr Gabriel Scally.  A further revision of the Implementation Plan took place to encompass two further recommendations identified by Dr Scally in the Supplementary Report, which was approved in June 2019.

Dr Scally was requested to undertake a further implementation review, and this took place in late 2019. The report of this Review of the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Scoping Inquiry into CervicalCheck was received by the Department in April 2020. The Minister published it on the Department’s website on 21 December 2020. In this review report, Dr Scally says that substantial progress has been made, the vast majority of actions were on track or were completed, and he is satisfied with the approach and structures in place for implementation.

Quarterly progress reports on implementation are published on the Department of Health website since Q1 2019. The Q4 2020 report will be published this week. As of the end of 2020, there were 148 of 170 actions, arising from the 58 recommendations, completed.

The Department of Health engages on an ongoing basis with the HSE and the National Cancer Registry of Ireland as part of the oversight of the implementation of the remaining recommendations and actions.  The CervicalCheck Steering Committee, chaired by Professor Anne Scott, will also have a role in oversight of the implementation of the remaining recommendations.

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