Smears fail 24 Cork women

Twenty-four women who attended the cancer centre at Cork University Hospital and 16 from University Hospital Waterford are among the 209 nationally who were failed by smear tests.

Chief operations officer at South/South West Hospital Group, Gerard O’Callaghan, revealed the figures for the ‘false negative’ smears at a Regional Health Forum in County Hall.

“Nationally, the amount of women affected is 209 and we have two cancer centres here in the south: Cork University Hospital (CUH) and University Hospital Waterford (UHW),” he said.

“Sixteen women from UHW were affected, and 24 from CUH,” he added.

Eighteen women have died in relation to the CervicalCheck controversy, the HSE revealed earlier this week, with efforts still ongoing to contact all 209 women or their next of kin.

Chief officer for Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare Organisation, Ger Reaney, confirmed that the person in charge of liaising with the women in the Cork region, Kerry-based public health nurse, Helen Sweeney, only began her work on Thursday. He added that she hoped to have made contact with all of the people affected by yesterday evening.

A package of supports that was announced by Health Minister Simon Harris will be made available to the women and families impacted, said Mr Reaney.

It includes access to medical cards, exemption from prescription charges, reimbursement for travel and childcare costs, and access to primary care services regardless of eligibility in normal cases, as well as reimbursement for those services, including counselling.

He said the liaison officer for each area would ensure the women and families are aware of supports and can arrange to meet them as soon as possible.

Cork city councillor John Buttimer, of Fine Gael, said the communication systems in the HSE need to be reviewed. 

“As well as having investigations and tribunals, my sense is that there does need to be some review of the systems and the communication processes within the HSE,” he said.

“If the HSE is abolished or something else is put in its place, it’s still going to be populated by people and the likelihood that something similar could happen again always exists.”

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