Solicitor: ‘Review should not just be limited to cervical testing’

A solicitor representing another woman who was diagnosed with cancer after receiving an incorrect smear test result believes the scandal is far broader than just cervical screenings.

James McSweeney has called for any review or investigation to take in other screenings including breastcheck as he knows from experience and other cases that the “entire system is failing women”.

He is now representing another woman who is taking a case and who similar to Vicky Phelan, was diagnosed with cervical cancer after she received a false negative CervicalCheck result.

The case being taken by Mr McSweeney was lodged with the High Court in 2016 and is still ongoing.

Mr McSweeney told the Irish Examiner he has taken a number of cases for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, which the HSE has fought “tooth and nail” against.

He added that in many, many instances, confidentiality clauses are sought.

“If the one thing that comes out of this is that light on the manner in which cases are fought, that would be a good outcome,” he said.

“One woman we represent has now been told that her cancer may be terminal. Her case will be fully defended in my experience.”

Mr McSweeney said: “I suppose my concern would be that any review isn’t limited to cervical cancer screening and testing. I think the investigation needs to be more broad than is being reported.

“We represent a number of women who are affected by delayed diagnosis.

“However, it is really important not to get too focused on one aspect of an entire system that is failing women.

“A fatality as a result of a failure or delay in the breast cancer screening and treatment is no less disgraceful than the cases in the news today.

He highlighted cases surrounding delays in testing for breast cancer which would fall into the category of ‘urgent referrals’ as defined by the HSE but were not seen until significantly after the deadlines.

He said that delays have had “significant negative consequences” for the women involved.

“Several women that we have represented have had to undergo radical surgery and aggressive treatment that would not have been needed if they had been seen within the HSE guideline time or if there had been a proper follow up,” the solicitor said.


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