Republic's health chief resigns as cervical cancer scandal deepens

Tony O'Brien on Merrion Street following a joint committee health meeting on quarterly update health issues in Leinster House Dublin

Republic's health chief resigns as cervical cancer scandal deepens

However, a spokesman said they were only relayed to certain officials and none were brought to the attention of any serving health minister.

John Connaghan, who is the deputy director general and chief operating officer of the HSE since last August, will temporarily replace Mr O'Brien, who stepped down from his role on Thursday.

Leo Varadkar was speaking after this morning's cabinet meeting which discussed the CervicalCheck scandal.

'I have now designated John Connaghan to carry out the functions of the Director General of the HSE pending a recruitment process which is to be conducted by the Public Appointments Service.

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A further note, circulated four months later, acknowledged that while the "majority of cancers were detected as early as possible through cervical screening, not all cancers were prevented". It said that the CervicalCheck programme was prepared for such media coverage.

That version also included suggested next steps - advising recipients to pause all letters, await solicitors" advice, and to "continue to prepare reactive communications response for a media headline that "screening did not diagnose my cancer'".

He told TDs that he had been "advised that the audit had not thrown by any issues of concern".

"I was provided with quite some detail as to how it would be done".

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The cervical scandal was brought to light after terminally ill mother Vicky Phelan settle a case with the HSE.

At least 17 women wrongly given the all-clear following their smear tests have since died.

Memos released to the committee showed that HSE management was warned in 2016 that there could be negative media coverage an audit into CervicalCheck, the national cervical cancer screening programme.

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, thanked Mr O'Brien for his "many years of dedicated public service".

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