Those impacted by the CervicalCheck controversy, including Vicky Phelan, called for new laws to hold managers in the public service accountable for the errors they make.
“We are going to keep having scandals of this nature again and again and people will not be held accountable,” Phelan warned.
“We don’t have a situation in this country where there is any legal accountability for management. There are bodies for doctors and nurses [but] we’re living in a country where people think they can get away with it at a management level and not be sanctioned.”
The Limerick woman was speaking at the launch of a new support group, 221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group, named for the 221-plus women affected by the highly public controversy.
Great to officially launch @221plus today alongside @PhelanVicky @LorcallWalsh @MarieKeating @IrishCancerSoc @IrishPatients for all the women and families who have been affected by the #cervicalcheckdebacle Thanks to all the media who came out today to help deliver our message https://t.co/Lrc5MkHo4u— Stephen Teap (@Stephenteap) October 14, 2018
Funded by the Department of Health for the next three years, the group will provide expertise and advice to the large group of women whom have all been diagnosed with cervical cancer, and their families.
According to the Irish Times, approximately 50 of the 221-plus women have consented to their smear tests being re-audited in a Government-ordered review being carried out by UK-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
The outlet reports that some of the women were legally advised not to give consent because ‘it may prove difficult to retrieve their slides afterwards for use in future litigation.’
Who are the 221? What criteria made them one of the 221? @221plus @PhelanVicky @Stephenteap @IrishCancerSoc @MarieKeating @IrishPatients #cervicalcheckdebacle #CervicalCheck pic.twitter.com/JO9QInGVPX— Lorraine Walsh (@LorcallWalsh) October 15, 2018
The low uptake means the RCOG review will most likely struggle to establish how many women had their slides misread and what impact this had.
One of the affected women, Lorraine Walsh, said the group would “wait and see” what came out of further investigations undertaken by Dr. Gabriel Scally.
The Irish doctor recently carried out an inquiry into the CervicalCheck controversy and published his findings and recommendations in a report for the Government to adhere to.
“There are a lot of questions still to be answered,” Walsh said. “We’re pressing a pause button on deciding on a commission until we see what we get from Dr Scally’s further work and the RCOG review.”
It was heard that twenty women have now died as a result of the scandal. The death of mother-of-five Emma Mhic Mhathúna last weekend caused widespread outrage.
The Irish Times notes that the State is set to take over the operation of a large part of the smear test examination services for the CervicalCheck program going forward.
For more information about the CervicalCheck Patient Support Group, visit 221plus.ie