'Emotional and disappointed' cervical cancer survivors cannot give reassurances over screening programme

'Emotional and disappointed' cervical cancer survivors cannot give reassurances over screening programme
Patient advocates Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh outside the Department of Health following a meeting of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee in Dublin. Pic: Gareth Chaney / Collins

CervicalCheck patient representatives say they cannot give reassurances to women to have faith in the screening programme.

The 221+ campaign said it is "emotional and disappointed" following a meeting of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee to discuss the 856 women who had delayed test results.

Fifty-two of those affected by the Quest Lab IT glitch tested positive for HPV after their re-check.

Cervical cancer survivor Lorraine Walsh, who attended today's meeting, feels reform of the system is going backwards.

“I found it very emotional actually,” she said.

“I am just disappointed for the women in Ireland that we haven’t got answers.”

"I'm just disappointed because we spent the last year just trying to help the people that are trying to put it right, put it right, and we seem to be gone a hell of a lot backwards.

"I wish I could give, after a year, reassurances to the women of Ireland to have more faith in the system, but we are not there yet."

She said representatives will this afternoon meet with the head of the Government’s “immediate rapid review” into the latest controversy Professor Brian McGrath.

“I suppose we have more questions for him now,” she said.

“I hope that he will provide the answers in relation to timelines and information on everything.”

On her way into the meeting earlier, Ms Walsh said patients advocates have heard nothing from the Taoiseach about a State apology to the women affected by the various CervicalCheck scandals.

She said a Government apology is vital.

“This is a really important step for the women that are involved in this and their families,” she said.

“It is about healing; it is about emotional healing and having somebody to say, ‘we are sorry for what happened to you. It shouldn’t have happened and we will ensure that this doesn’t happen again. But for you this shouldn’t have happened and I am sorry on behalf of the State of Ireland.’”

“That is what I want.”

She said she will continue to fight for answers for the women of Ireland.

"I'm looking to find out the truth," she said. "I want to know who knew and when."

"I want to know when it was established that this was actually a problem - as opposed to it being just one individual woman that approached the department".

This latest problem arose when it emerged last Thursday that 800 women who underwent screening were not issued with their results due to an IT issue with the Quest lab in the US state of Virginia.

That figure has now been revised upwards to 856 women.

While 52 women tested positive for the HPV virus after their re-test, and 26 of those have been referred on for colposcopies.

The HSE said the clinical risk to their health is low and is trying to contact the GPs of the other 26 women.

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