Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has said immediate steps must be taken to make sure that people affected by the CervicalCheck controversy receive prompt and appropriate treatment and supports, and to guarantee that there is full accountability for mishandling of diagnosis cases.

Deputy Shortall said:

“I welcome the proposed setting up of an independent statutory inquiry and also a redress scheme for women and families who have been so terribly affected by how the national CervicalCheck programme was drastically mismanaged.

“The HIQA inquiry must clearly establish exactly who was responsible for withholding information about the smear tests from patients for months and years, and there should be appropriate consequences for health professionals whose failures to act have damaged patients’ health.

“The redress scheme should involve immediate medical and financial supports for women who are affected and their families. This should include compensation for the more than 12 women who have died, if it is determined that their deaths were due to a delayed diagnosis.”

Deputy Shortall added that the government should not wait until the outcome of the HIQA inquiry before taking decisive action to address the many blatant shortcomings that this controversy highlights. The following steps that must be taken straight away:

  • The government must commit to legislate for a duty of candour. This would oblige healthcare professionals to inform patients of problems with test results as well as changes in diagnosis and any errors that may be identified. It is abundantly clear that the current voluntary ‘open disclosure’ policy has failed women and there are zero consequences for non-compliance.
  • The HSE should come forward and explain why it continued with outsourcing of Irish smear tests to the United States after a member of the National Cervical Screening Programme warned in 2008 that outsourcing smear tests would lead to missed cases or misdiagnosis of cancer.
  • The government and HSE must make a commitment that no further legal actions by women affected by this controversy are contested.
  • A formal assessment of the effectiveness of the National Cancer Screening service must also be carried out to establish whether there are wider lessons to be learned regarding how CervicalCheck operated.



30 April 2018

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