Latest: Victims and families of the CervicalCheck scandal have labelled the leaking of the Scally report as disgusting, and say there are fundamental problems in the HSE when it comes to women’s healthcare.
Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died on July 26, 2017, after two false negative tests, and Lorraine Walsh, who lost her chance to have children over a missed 2011 cancer warning, spoke to the media today, after a five-hour meeting on Tuesday with Dr Gabriel Scally about his report.
Although they said they were pleased with the detail of the report, they have major concerns with a number of his findings, including what they say is physicians operating with a “God complex”, and say the 50 recommendations in the report must be implemented immediately.
“Whatever route is taken after this, whether it be a commission of investigation or an inquiry, it cannot delay the implementation of these very critical recommendations,” Mr Teap said.
Ms Walsh, who had seven surgeries over five years to try and preserve her fertility, criticised the attitude of consultants who she says withheld critical information from her and other women about their cancer status.
“When it was disclosed to me, the attitude I was given was; ‘I didn’t feel you needed to know, and in hindsight I should have told you, I don’t know what you’re making a big deal about, this is no big deal’ and that is something that has come out in Gabriel Scally’s report; he has clearly shown that is a problem across the system.
“This is a system that seems to be every single area of it, problematic, as we moved through the report last night, every area, every chapter, we were told there were fundamental problems, it was very hard to hear, especially the outsourcing to other labs, it’s unbelievable that CervicalCheck knew nothing about it.
“This cannot happen again, Stephen is here without his wife and has two small boys at home, I wish I had two small boys at home but I don’t have it.
“While the cervical screening system saved my life, it took a lot away from me and let me down badly.”
Mr Teap, from Co Cork, lost his wife and mother of his two young sons, Oscar and Noah, last year and was told just months before her death that her smear tests from 2010 and 2013 were incorrect.
He said he found out parts of Dr Scally’s report had been leaked from the media on Tuesday morning.
“The initial plan was to meet Dr Scally at 11:30am on Wednesday, so I organised babysitters and taking day off work.
“My alarm was due at seven, at 10 to seven a radio station phoned me looking for my reaction to the leaking of the Scally report.
“I could not believe what I was being asked.
“I was outraged, I was absolutely devastated when I went online and saw what was leaked.
“It’s not just me, 220 other families who have been through the worst pain and hurt, and given this whole scandal is based around victims finding out information from the media, the insensitivity from the person or people who leaked it is horrific.
“The amount of energy it takes to sit in front of you here today, even driving to Dublin to read through this inquiry, the emotional pain, its horrific for us to read.
“The end of Irene’s life, she did everything right, she put all her faith in the system, everything let her down, and for her to continue to be treated in that manner was absolutely disgusting.
“I would like to see (the leak) investigated, there is so much hurt and pain involved.”
The HSE has welcomed Dr Scally's report of the Scoping Inquiry, saying the "impact of this failure has been profound".
They acknowledged Dr Scally's patient-centred approach during his inquiry and their failure to communicate to the women affected.
The HSE statement said: "We are re-iterating our deepest apology to all those women and those families affected. At the centre of this issue was our failure to communicate with the women who were the subject of the audit.
"As Dr Scally noted, and with which we agree, these women should have been informed.
"We further accept that the manner in which women were told was inconsistent and in many instances ill-judged and poorly handled."
They said their priority is to support the women and families involved and to bring in the recommendations in Dr Scally's report.
They said: "We welcome confirmation by Dr Scally that the current laboratories have and continue to provide services in a quality assured manner.
"We are now moving swiftly to implement all 50 recommendations and are continuing to thoroughly examine the findings."
Dr Gabriel Scally says the current policy of disclosure to patients is deeply contradictory and unsatisfactory.
More than 200 women had their smear results read incorrectly.
Dr Scally outlined how one consultant delivered the news to a family whose mother was deceased.
"They said they went in for their disclosure meeting and the consultant said several times about the late woman's smoking habit and also told them that nuns don't get cervical cancer.
"Now if that isn't paternalism, verging on misogyny. If that isn't paternalism, what is?"
Dr Scally believes there is not a need for a commission of investigation but he has made 50 recommendations.
Representatives for the women involved have called for them to be implemented as soon as possible.
One of the women affected, Lorraine Walsh, says this can never happen again.
"We can't change what has happened to us but we've been working closely with the department, with all of the people in the HSE, CervicalCheck through the steering committee over the last number of months to try and push this forward, to try and change the system and to try and make sure this doesn't happen again.
"We cannot have this happen again."
Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died from cervical cancer, says the report was hard to read.
"You have absolutely no idea of the emotion and pain that we felt yesterday going through this inquiry," Mr Teap said at a press conference.
"It is horrific for us to read, particularly for myself when I see exactly how the ending of Irene's life now can be summed up in this.
"She did everything right. She got her smear test done. She put her 100% trust and faith in the system."
Mr Teap said that he is very concerned with some of the findings within the report.
He said that the 50 recommendations proposed by Dr Scally need to be implemented immediately and cannot be delayed.
Vicky Phelan was not present today saying that "I need to ensure that I am alive to see all these changes implemented" but took to Twitter to support the statements made by Mr Teap and Lorraine Walsh.
I agree 100% with @Stephenteap and @LorcallWalsh Sorry I couldn't be at the press conference. I need to ensure that I am alive to see all these changes implemented #CervicalCheck https://t.co/BBxgXYUZQd— Vicky Phelan (@PhelanVicky) September 12, 2018
The Scally Report into the CervicalCheck controversy has been published.
Dr Gabriel Scally says there were indications it was a system "that was doomed to fail".
He found there was a "whole systems failure" in the system but he said there was no evidence of a conspiracy, corruption or cover up.
More than 200 women were not told about an audit showing their smear results had been read incorrectly.
Dr Scally has heavily criticised the manner in which they were finally told about it.
"They have expressed very clearly their anger at not being told at the time when the information from the audit became available and they are equally as angry about how they were eventually told," said Dr Scally.
Dr Scally also found there were problems in each and every one of the areas he looked at and how information should be disclosed to patients.
Health Minister Simon Harris acknowledges women have suffered because of this.
"Certainly harm was done to women in terms of the non-disclosure and Dr Scally has been very clear on that - that extra harm, extra pain, extra suffering was added to women who already had cervical cancer and in many cases a devastating diagnosis," said Minister Harris.
"The inquiry finds no indication that my department was aware prior to April 2018 of the scale and the potential impact of the issues in respect to the handling of disclosure in relation to the CervicalCheck audit process," said Minister Harris.
"The report states that it would be unreasonable to expect senior management in the HSE and even moreso department officials to have intervened on foot of the briefing notes which it describes as largely reassuring notes.
"The report also finds no evidence that a briefing from me on the cervical screening audit was ever prepared or ever took place prior to April 2018 despite some political charges to the contrary."
Watch Dr Gabriel Scally give his statement on the findings below:
You can read the full report here.