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Inquiry into management of cancer services must be independent – Ó Caoláin

23 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Health and Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has backed calls for a completely independent inquiry into the management of cancer services in the Midlands region following the latest development in the scandal. Commenting on calls for the resignation of Health Minister Mary Harney, the Sinn Féin Dáil leader said she "should never have been appointed in the first place" and unless policy was changed as well as the Minister the resignation would be "window-dressing".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Appalling is the only word to describe the plight of the 97 women whose ultrasound scans have been reviewed and who heard the news through the media. It is incredible that this could have been revealed first in a public presentation by a HSE official at an Oireachtas meeting and that this was the first Minister Harney heard of it.

"It is now essential that a fully independent inquiry into the scandal in cancer screening in the Midlands is established. This should be thorough, transparent and time-limited. And it should probe the failure of management and communication that led to a situation where both Minister Harney and HSE Chief Brendan Drumm can claim that they were not aware of the review of the ultrasound records.

"We are again hearing calls for Minister Harney's resignation. She should never have been appointed in the first place. But this is not about one Minister. Unless Government health policy and HSE mismanagement are to change also then the departure of Minister Harney would be mere window-dressing. Her Fianna Fail colleagues in Government, especially Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, are equally culpable."

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