THE cervical cancer review was still having major problems getting access to records even after the health minister described HSE handing over material that could not be searched as “absolutely pathetic”.
A letter sent to the HSE reveals that the Scally inquiry said the provision of unsearchable documents was “extremely cumbersome and substantially inhibiting” their work.
The correspondence from Dr Gabriel Scally came two weeks after Health Minister Simon Harris had gone on RTÉ radio to say it was “not acceptable” to give the inquiry material that was not easily searched through.
Letters obtained under FOI reveal that the problem persisted however, and the inquiry was struggling to make “swift progress” because of the way in which files were being delivered.
The Scally inquiry also complained that they had “major concerns” over the level of redaction on some of the documents needed for their scoping inquiry.
In a conference call, the inquiry had agreed with the HSE that some deletions would be acceptable in cases of commercial sensitivity or patient confidentiality.
However, redaction had gone far beyond this, according to the letter sent to the HSE on June 29.
“We were disturbed to note that the documents provided yesterday … included significant amounts of redaction which go beyond the matters [agreed],” wrote Dr Scally.
“For example, one email has been redacted so that its author and the organisation they work for are not visible; another document includes a meeting minute with a number of the attendees’ names and organisations redacted.”
Dr Scally warned that this was “not acceptable” and said it was making it “impossible” for them to follow the terms of reference set by government.
You can read the letters below and the original Scally Report is available here.