Belfast Telegraph

Belfast doctor to head inquiry in Republic

By Cate McCurry

A west Belfast doctor is leading a scoping inquiry into the Irish CervicalCheck scandal.

Dr Gabriel Scally, a former NHS doctor, will oversee and examine key elements of the controversy that has rocked the Republic's health system.

An audit by CervicalCheck of 1,482 women diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008 found potential errors in 208 cases as tests incorrectly gave the all-clear.

Seventeen of these women have died, while a number of others have been told their cancer is terminal.

Dr Scally (63) arrived in the Republic yesterday to begin work on the inquiry.

He will be looking at a range of issues, including the withholding of audit results from affected women.

He is expected to report back to the Republic's Health Minister Simon Harris by the end of next month, setting out his findings.

Dr Scally studied at Queen's University, where he trained first in general practice and then in public health. He has held senior roles at both the UK's Department of Health and the NHS, and is currently the president of the Epidemiology and Public Health section of the Royal Society of Medicine

He also holds a series of academic roles, including as Professor of Public Health and Planning in the University of the West of England.

The medic served for seven years as director of public health in the Eastern Health and Social Care Board and was appointed public health director in the NHS in England in 1994.

Dr Scally has dealt with a number of high-profile health service failures and also assisted the Northern Ireland enquiry into the hyponatremia-related deaths as both an expert witness and as an adviser to the chair.

Meanwhile, another Northern Ireland man is in the running to claim the top health job in the Republic in the short-term.

Tony O'Brien is currently the director of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and is expected to step down at the end of June.

He has come under intense pressure to vacate the post sooner in light of the Cervical Check controversy.

The HSE has two deputy directors general, one of whom is likely to step in as interim director during the recruitment process.

Dean Sullivan, who left his role as director of commissioning at the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) last year, is reported to be in the running for the role.

Mr Sullivan is currently the chief strategy and planning officer. John Connaghan is chief operations officer.

Both men could be in the running for interim director general, the Irish Times reported.

Mr Sullivan joined the HSE from the HSCB, where he was responsible for the strategic planning of health and social care services.

He worked previously as a senior civil servant for the Department of Health, overseeing improvements in waiting times across a range of hospital and community services.

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