What Minister Simon Harris was told ahead of Vicky Phelan case

Dr Grainne Flannelly

Mr Harris also announced he would appoint an worldwide panel of clinical experts to review the cases of all the women involved.

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.

"I'm very upset to be honest, to think that there is 17 women, it was bad enough that I knew there was three, I'm quite upset today", Phelan said.

The HSE also confirmed today that 162 of those 208 women were not told that a review had been conducted or what the results of the said review were.

Health Minister Simon Harris was advised to acknowledge the 'severe distress of Vicky Phelan after the case was settled.

Ms Phelan (43), a mother of two from Limerick, settled her High Court action against a United States laboratory for €2.5 million last week.

In all, some 1,400 women developed cervical cancer after previously testing negative in smear tests during the 2010-2014 period.

A TOTAL of 17 women have died due to a cervical screening controversy in the Republic.

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The National Screening Service assured the Department of Heath that no quality issues has arisen in relation the U.S. laboratory that performed the 2011 test.

She added: "This is a massive patient safety issue". "She said, 'I don't care what happens, I'm not going to agree to a confidentiality agreement.' If she had, none of this would have come out".

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

That figure of 208 women affected now appears to be significantly higher.

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will be an inquiry into the controversy over the screenings. "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. "The Irish Cancer Society echoes Vicky's calls to continue availing of cervical cancer screening".

Solicitor Cian O'Carroll, who represented Ms Phelan, has said the latest revelations are "shocking" and described CervicalCheck's conduct as appalling.

The HSE has said it will provide further information and updates over the coming days on cervicalcheck.ie and anyone with concerns may contact the CervicalCheck information phone line on 1800 45 45 55.

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