Campaigner unhappy with Minister’s ‘lack of compassion’ as Lorraine Walsh quits CervicalCheck panel


Update: Cervical cancer campaigner Stephen Teap has said he is not happy with the “lack of compassion” shown by the Minister for Health for the women who were given incorrect test results highlighted in the independent review of the CervicalCheck programme undertaken by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

“We are a very long way from getting to the end of this debacle,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The Minister’s response had been to take “snippets” from the independent review “to try to downplay it and to ignore the pain and suffering of those women and their families.”

There were mistakes and failures in the system as confirmed by Dr Gabriel Scally, said Mr Teap.

An awful lot of work remains to be done before confidence in the service can grow, he said. But he emphasised that screening is very important and that woman should continue to be screened.

Mr Teap also paid tribute to his fellow campaigner Lorraine Walsh who resigned as a patient advocate on Tuesday. She had done so because she was not being listened to or respected, he said.

She was under massive pressure and strains. At the end of the day Lorraine has to put herself first.

On the same programme, Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to offer a “full and frank apology” to Lorraine Walsh and the woman impacted by the incorrect readings.

He also called for the immediate introduction of the HPV test which will save lives, he said and was promised last year.

Earlier: Lorraine Walsh quits CervicalCheck steering panel over lack of confidence in report

Patient advocate Lorraine Walsh has resigned from the CervicalCheck steering committee set up to oversee changes in the programme.

Lorraine Walsh.
Lorraine Walsh.

Ms Walsh, who was one of the 221 women whose smear tests were read incorrectly and developed cervical cancer, said has she stepped down over yesterday’s report.

She said she made the decision to leave because she does not have confidence in yesterday’s report.

She said:

I wish I could tell the women of Ireland I had confidence in this report, but I absolutely don’t.

Ms Walsh, herself the victim of misread smears, revealed on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme last night that RCOG supplied her with two different sets of results of her own smears over a 24-hour period in October.

She said her own slides and fellow campaigner Vicky Phelan’s had been mislabelled and she found this inexplicable. Ms Walsh called on the Government to fund an “individual independent assessment for every woman”.

UK experts found original test results carried out on the slides of 308 women with cancer were wrong. 159 of those also had missed opportunities for diagnosis.

221+ group spokesperson Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died of cervical cancer, said there are questions that need answering.

Mr Teap said: “We know the HSE had a number of verification steps in place that they weren’t satisfied with, they had to return a number of reports that failed the verification process which was concerning itself.

“We raised this issue a number of times a number of weeks back with the Department of Health, so right now we wouldn’t be fully standing over this.”

– Additional reporting by Digital Desk.

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