CervicalCheck: Patricia Carrick dies after cancer missed in smear test

Her husband Damien said: "I am heartbroken for me and for our children. We have lost a wonderful person."
CervicalCheck: Patricia Carrick dies after cancer missed in smear test

Patricia Carrick, known as Trish to her family and friends, died surrounded by her family at their home in Galway. Photo taken by her son Ciarán MacChoncarraige

Patricia Carrick, the woman Taoiseach Micheál Martin apologised to on behalf of the State because her cancer was missed by CervicalCheck, has died.

The 51-year-old, known as Trish to her family and friends, died surrounded by her family at their home in Galway.

The mother-of-four had returned there from hospital about a week ago.

Damien Carrick, husband of Patricia Carrick, was in the courtroom when counsel for the HSE Patrick Hanratty SC read out the apology on behalf of the HSE and the MedLab Pathology Ltd. File photo: Collins Courts
Damien Carrick, husband of Patricia Carrick, was in the courtroom when counsel for the HSE Patrick Hanratty SC read out the apology on behalf of the HSE and the MedLab Pathology Ltd. File photo: Collins Courts

By her side were her husband Damien, their son Ciarán, their daughters Ríoghna and Sorcha, and their youngest son Eoin.

Damien said: "She is the love of my life.

"We have been through many challenges together and we have always prevailed.

"The best mother that anyone could wish for and a wonderful wife.

"A true friend and a great sister, daughter, aunt, niece and cousin.

"I met Trish 30 years ago in March 1990 and we started dating the following May.

"Engaged two years later, we would be 27 years married next March.

"I am heartbroken for me and for our children. We have lost a wonderful person.

"I am heartbroken for her family and mine and our extended family and our friends."

He added: "To all of you that sent a text or thought about sending one, made a phone call or thought about making that call and to all of you that said a prayer or even thought for a split second about Trish, thank you.

"You have made her journey that little bit easier by helping Ciarán, Ríoghna, Sorcha, Eoin and myself to be with her, holding her hand or making her laugh or just giving us the space to be with Trish.

"Trish is making her journey now to be reunited with our baby girl Aisling and to be with her mother.

"Our journey now takes a different path, one with Trish by our sides to guide us and to give us the strength to live our lives to the full, exactly as Trish would have wanted.

"Goodnight my sweetheart, my Trish, my lovely wife and a wonderful mother. Until we meet again."

President Micheal D Higgins also paid tribute to Ms Carrick, saying: “I was greatly saddened to hear that Patricia Carrick has died. I spoke to her husband Damien and family on November 1 and to her father Pat O’Sullivan, a long-time friend, at the beginning of November. Patricia’s and Damien’s families were well-known to me for years.

"I know that Patricia’s courage, which I know she held to the very end, and her grace as a campaigner, provide some solace to her loved ones at this difficult time.

"It is also appropriate at this time to think of all those who were failed by a system in which they had trusted, and their loved ones.”

Ms Carrick was in hospital when Micheál Martin made a public apology to her in the Dáil and she watched it on a tablet her husband had brought in for her to watch it on.

The couple cried when they saw Mr Martin, who had only been asked a few days beforehand to grant Patricia her dying wish, reading his statement out.

Mr Martin said she had been "badly let down" and her family "is going through the very worst of times because of the mistakes of others".

And he said: "On behalf of the Government and on behalf of the nation, I offer my genuine and heartfelt apologies.

You have been failed.

It is understood a formal letter of apology — on top of an apology read out in court — was also issued to the family by hand from the HSE a short time before the Dáil apology.

Patricia Carrick. Damien said this morning: “Trish passed away peacefully overnight. Picture: Ciaran MacChoncarraige
Patricia Carrick. Damien said this morning: “Trish passed away peacefully overnight. Picture: Ciaran MacChoncarraige

Before last month’s High Court victory, Patricia had had to fight for the smallest resource to help her — being placed, at one point, on a two-year waiting list for a specialist shower chair.

This was because she was not entitled to the same care package as the 221+ group of CervicalCheck survivors identified in an audit process that stopped in mid-2018.

Her cancer diagnosis not only happened after this date, but it did not feature in a subsequent review of cases.

She had sued after she discovered, with the help of cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan’s solicitor Cian O'Carroll and husband Damien, CervicalCheck misread a scan in 2016.

By the time her cancer was eventually diagnosed in July 2019, it was too late to do anything about it other than try and buy time with her family.

Last month, she won an unprecedented apology and an admission of negligence from the HSE and from the laboratory which missed her cancer.

Patricia had been too ill to attend last month’s court victory, which saw her awarded €2.75m.

But Damien was in the courtroom when counsel for the HSE Patrick Hanratty SC read out the apology on behalf of the HSE and the MedLab Pathology Ltd.

(Left to right) Patricia, Ciarán and Damien Carrick. Damien, her son Ciarán, their daughters Ríoghna and Sorcha, and their youngest son Eoin were by Patricia's side when she passed away..
(Left to right) Patricia, Ciarán and Damien Carrick. Damien, her son Ciarán, their daughters Ríoghna and Sorcha, and their youngest son Eoin were by Patricia's side when she passed away..

It stated: "The Health Service Executive and MedLab Pathology Ltd acknowledge the liquid-based cytology sample of May 31, 2016, was read in a manner that was negligent and in breach of duty.

“We wish to sincerely apologise that this occurred and for the consequences and distress that this has caused for you all.” 

 Damien, in an in-depth interview with the Irish Examiner afterwards, had said it was his and his dying wife’s wish that the State should apologise for what had happened to her.

In the general State apology he issued on October 22, 2019, when he was then taoiseach, Leo Varadkar had apologised for the “litany of failures” in how cervical screening had been operated.

He described it as “a system that was doomed to fail”.

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