Former HSE chief calls Simon Harris ‘a frightened little boy’

Former HSE chief Tony O’Brien has criticised Health Minister Simon Harris over his handling of the CervicalCheck controversy, claiming the minister acted like a ‘frightened little boy’.

O’Brien stepped down from his position earlier this year, following the fallout of the scandal.

The results of earlier smear tests of at least 221 women who were subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer could have been interpreted differently. Most of these women were not informed about this, raising issues around open disclosure.

In an interview with the Sunday Business Post, O’Brien describes Harris as a weak minister who “runs scared of headlines”.

O’Brien said he disagreed with Harris’s decision to offer another smear test to every woman in the country, describing this as a “panicked response” as “their original smear tests could be reread”.

“I would have hoped he’d have been able to show more courage in the face of a difficult political and media onslaught. And it is my sincere hope that from this, he will have gained the strength to be courageous in the future,” O’Brien said.

He expressed sympathy with the women caught up in the controversy but accused some people of using the situation for political gain.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Harris said the minister “doesn’t believe in engaging in the politics of personalised attacks” and thinks O’Brien made the right decision in stepping down.

“The CervicalCheck situation was a very difficult time for women in Ireland. They felt let down. The women were and are the minister’s priority.”

Read the full interview on the PMI website: Click Here

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