Tony O'Brien, the Director of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) has resigned in the midst of the Cervical Check scandal, which has seen 17 women die after false pap smear results and delayed diagnoses for many more.
O'Brien, who was already set to retire in July, has been Director General of the HSE since 2013.
He has been under pressure to step down ever since the full scope of the Cervical Check scandal, under which pap smears of Irish women were outsourced to a lab in the US to deal with a backlog and then not tested thoroughly enough for accurate results, emerged.
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This is a fascinating read on the background to the awarding of the smear test contract. Tony O'Brien features strongly in it, dismissing the concerns of doctors (which ultimately materialised): https://t.co/QWrpzQalnx #SmearTests pic.twitter.com/ezIyB74G8G— Ken Foxe (@kenfoxe) May 10, 2018
Thus far, 17 Irish women who received false negatives on their pap smear results have died.
When the issue became known to the lab and the HSE, women who'd received false results were not informed of the error in time, and to date 208 did not receive the information in enough time to take preventative measures.
#tonightTV3 Definitely ass covering from Tony O'Brien. Remember he was the CEO of the National Cancer Screening Programme when the decision to outsource smears to the US was taken AGAINST the advice of senior cytologisrs such as Dr. David Gibbons.— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) April 30, 2018
In a statement released by the HSE, O'Brien said that he’d made his decision "in order to avoid any further impact to the delivery of health and social care services, and in particular, the cancer screening services that have become the focus of intense political debate in recent days".
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Final lines of March 2016 memo, read by Tony O'Brien pic.twitter.com/WXYfErGoAp— Sarah Bardon (@SarahBardon) May 10, 2018
He said he was confident that an official review underway "will demonstrate the quality and value of the CervicalCheck programme once it is complete."