2018 CervicalCheck cancer controversy

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The 2018 CervicalCheck cancer controversy was a scandal that involved several woman in the Republic of Ireland suing the Health Service Executive for receiving incorrect smear test results for cervical cancer.[1][2][3]

On 26 April 2018 the HSE confirmed that 206 women developed cervical cancer after having a misdiagnosed CervicalCheck smear test.[4] In May, HSE director-general Tony O'Brien took temporary leave of absence from the board of a US medical company amid renewed calls for him to stand aside from his position due to the ongoing controversy.[5] Tony O'Brien announced his resignation as director-general of the HSE with effect from close of business on 11 May.[6]

Emma Mhic Mhathúna, a terminally ill mother of five children who was one of the women given an inaccurate negative test made national media headlines in May, including an interview on Morning Ireland.[7][8] Appearing on The Late Late Show, she called for the HSE to be "dismantled and reassembled". Mhic Mhathúna passed away on 7 October 2018.

Increased scrutiny into BreastCheck and BowelScreen has followed from this controversy.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Mother-of-two sues HSE for alleged cervical cancer diagnosis delay". 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ Aodha, Gráinne Ní. "CervicalCheck chief responds to test criticism: 'I'd be surprised if women didn't have questions'".
  3. ^ "'I'm dying because of human error and that's disgusting'".
  4. ^ "Smear test scandal: 206 women develop cancer after all-clear". Irish Independent. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  5. ^ "HSE chief Tony O'Brien to take leave of absence from US board". Irish Times. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  6. ^ "HSE boss Tony O'Brien steps down in wake of CervicalCheck scandal". Irish Independent. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  7. ^ Power, Jack (1 May 2018). "'The doctor told me the smear results I got in 2013 were wrong'". Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  8. ^ Gleeson, Colin (11 May 2018). "Emma Mhic Mhathúna calls for HSE to be dismantled". Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  9. ^ McQuinn, Cormac (10 May 2018). "State Claims Agency dealing with four alleged misdiagnosis cases involving BreastCheck, TDs told". Irish Independent. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  10. ^ O'Regan, Eilish (2 May 2018). "Breast and bowel tests now under scrutiny as public fear screening". Irish Independent. Retrieved 12 May 2018.