HSE chief Tony O'Brien steps down amid cervical smear scandal


Ireland's leader has apologized for a scandal over inaccurate cervical cancer screening tests and has pledged an investigation to find out what went wrong.

Meanwhile, John Connaghan has been appointed as interim director-general of the HSE following Tony O'Brien's decision to step down in the wake of the cervical screening controversy.

Three HSE memos from 2016 that were seen by O'Brien were discussed at the Committee meeting, memos which the Department of Health claims were not seen by any Health ministers.

The lower detection rate in the USA laboratory was brought to the attention of the Republic of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) but appears not to have been acted upon.

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

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It is expected that Mr Harris will bring a number of measures to the cabinet to help the women and their families affected.

The director general's remarks came after Mr Donnelly informed him that it would be in the best interest that he immediately left his position.

Tony O'Brien is appearing before an Oireachtas committee where he's been accused of dancing on the head of a pin to avoid resigning.

Last week, it was revealed that an audit by CervicalCheck of 1,482 women diagnosed with the cancer since 2008 had found potential errors in 208 cases, as tests showed no abnormality when they should have been given a cancer warning.

He added that there were clear communication failures surrounding the CervicalCheck audits, but that he is confident a review announced by the government last week "will demonstrate the quality and value of the CervicalCheck programme once it is complete".