When Dr Gabriel Scally was appointed on 8 May to lead the scoping inquiry into issues surrounding the CervicalCheck screening programme, it was planned that the investigation would be completed at the end of June.
However, the deadline for completing the scoping inquiry has since been extended to the end of the summer. Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed that a full Commission of Investigation will be established in September.
After his appointment, Dr Scally wrote to Minister Harris on 16 May about the costs associated with the investigation.
“In keeping with assurances relating to the independence of my scoping inquiry, I would like to set out how I intend to deal with the practical support for the work of this review,” according to the letter, which <strong><em>MI</em></strong> has seen following a Freedom of Information request.
“At the moment, I would estimate the cost of the scoping inquiry to be approximately €200,000 plus VAT. This sum is based on completing the work by the end of June, as is my intention. However, the sum may alter in the course of the work to be carried out in the next six weeks.”
Dr Scally added that he intended to send the invoices at mid-point and at completion of the inquiry.
In response, Minister Harris agreed to Dr Scally’s requests in a letter on 22 May, also seen by this newspaper.
“In the context of the enormous importance of this work, I am happy to confirm agreement in principle to the estimate and to recognise the potential for variation as the work develops,” stated the Minister.
“However, I trust that you will arrange for a detailed breakdown of costs to be provided to the Secretary General, as Accounting Officer, and that you will advise of any anticipated variation to the estimate at an early stage and in advance of any such additional costs being incurred.” In July, Dr Scally criticised the HSE for continued delays in providing documentation to his investigation.
A Department of Health spokesperson said it did not have an “update to provide in relation to the costs of the Scally inquiry”.