Vicky Phelan: ‘Government trying to delay smear test review’

Patient advocates Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap have warned that the Government is trying to delay a review into CervicalCheck smear tests as it will show that up to another 200 women were misdiagnosed.

Ms Phelan, the Limerick mother who has helped expose the cervical cancer controversy, has also revealed that the Scally inquiry will be published on September 1.

Both she and Mr Teap gave moving and critical speeches at the MacGill Summer School, highlighting the lack of accountability in the health and public services.

Ms Phelan, who has terminal cancer, was awarded €2.5m earlier this year after she received an incorrect smear test result.

Mr Teap lost his wife Irene one year ago today, after she died of cervical cancer.

The inquiry, being carried out by Dr Gabriel Scally, is likely to recommend a full commission of investigation into the scandal.

This will also examine why more than 200 women diagnosed with cervical cancer were not told their smear tests were incorrectly interpreted.

A separate review of up to 3,000 slides is expected to also conclude many more women were misdiagnosed.

But Ms Phelan and Mr Teap both believe there are efforts to delay these smear reviews.

 

“I do. Definitely. This is the level of political game-playing going on,” Ms Phelan told reporters.

Both said the Government wanted to kick the can down the road.

Ms Phelan told the school that it was likely to emerge — if one looked at the numbers — that up to another 200 women were given incorrect results.

Ms Phelan said: “We’re adamant that it {review} has to be public. There is no system... like a committee of investigation is private.

“Simon Harris [the Health Minister] is talking about introducing legislation for parts of that to be public. We will be pushing that.”

 

On the same day as the Scally report, the two will also launch a support group for patients affected. Three years of funding from the Department of Health has been agreed for the group.

Mr Teap said: “One of the things that happened when I went to the consultant and they told me the horrible news about the misread slides and all of that, I went home that night to my two kids, Irene gone, with absolutely no support there whatsoever.”

Patients and families have had trouble contacting each other for support because of data protection rules and ministers have had to intervene, the two advocates also revealed.


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