Saturday 20 July 2019

Calls to 'honour legacy' of CervicalCheck activist Orla

Orla Church (54) was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.
Orla Church (54) was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.
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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The Government has been urged to honour the legacy of the late CervicalCheck cancer activist Orla Church, who quietly campaigned for the introduction of more advanced screening of smear tests.

Ms Church (54), from Beaumont in north Dublin, who died of cervical cancer on Saturday, was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.

Her solicitor Caoimhe Haughey said yesterday Ms Church, who worked as an analyst in the Central Bank, was a vigorous campaigner behind the scenes for the introduction of HPV testing of slides in CervicalCheck labs, which would reduce the chances of abnormalities being missed.

The Government has said planning is under way for its introduction this year, but no timeline has yet emerged.

Orla Church (54) was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.
Orla Church (54) was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.

"It would honour Ms Church's legacy if this testing was not delayed. She was a remarkable woman," Ms Haughey said.

In a High Court action, Ms Church alleged she received two false negative test results from 2011 and 2014. She sued the HSE and Quest laboratories. The defendants denied the claims.

Her cancer was discovered in 2016. When she had symptoms in 2015 she was put on a 15-month hospital waiting list to see a gynaecologist.

She was not deemed urgent at that point because her test results were normal. She went to a see a gynaecologist privately and this led to her tumour being diagnosed.

She found out she had a rarer type of cervical cancer called adenocarcinoma, which was less likely to be picked up by smear tests. Her case was due for mediation on Friday, but was settled on Thursday.

Vicky Phelan, whose case uncovered the CervicalCheck controversy, paid tribute to her "fierce" campaigning.

RTÉ broadcaster Joe Duffy, who spoke to Ms Church on 'Liveline', described her as a "great, great woman" who was a diligent campaigner.

She will repose at Kirwans funeral home in Fairview this evening with funeral Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Consolation, Donnycarney, Dublin, tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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