17 women affected by CervicalCheck controversy have died

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A briefing note was prepared for Health Minister Simon Harris over a week before a settlement was reached in Vicky Phelan's High Court case.

Chair of the HSE Serious Incident Management Team Patrick Lynch said the women had a right to know about their cases.

Mr Harris said this evening: "Whilst I had previously been advised, and it had been commonly understood that CervicalCheck clinical audit covered all cases notified to the National Cancer Registry, I have been informed this afternoon that this is not the case".

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said 162 of the 208 women affected by the CervicalCheck screening row were not told that a review had been conducted of their case or of the outcome.

The revelations come following revelations about the case of cancer patient Vicky Phelan.

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

It has led to a controversy over smear test results where a number of women may have been wrongly given the all clear after their cancer tests.

More than 1,500 women who developed cervical cancer did not have their cases reviewed by CervicalCheck, it has emerged, as the Government moved towards a commission of inquiry into the controversy.

He also said he is bringing patient safety legislation to Cabinet next week.

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

"And by God I'm going to take these guys on".

Mr Harris said he did not have "specific figures" but agreed with Fianna Fáil's Stephen Donnelly that it could be in the region of 1,500.

It has also been revealed that a helpline for women concerned about this matter has now received 6,000 calls. He is expected to discuss this issue with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the coming days.

More than 2,000 women have called the CervicalCheck helpline over the weekend.

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

However, the Taoiseach said that despite the controversy, "cancer screening does work".

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach says he will not fire HSE boss Tony O'Brien after the CervicalCheck scandal.

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