Thursday 22 August 2019

Patients group wants apology to begin healing

Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Victims of the CervicalCheck scandal want the Taoiseach's planned apology to begin the healing process for those affected by the serious failings in the cancer screening programme.

The 221+ support group last night said that a full apology is only possible when there's a full understanding of where responsibility lies for what it described as a "catastrophic systems failure".

Their remarks came after the group's patient representatives Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris to discuss the forthcoming formal apology on behalf of the State.

Ms Walsh - who developed cervical cancer - was one of 221 women whose smear tests were read incorrectly. Mr Teap lost his wife Irene to the illness.

The meeting came a day after the publication of a report by Professor Brian MacCraith into an IT glitch that led to more than 4,000 women failing to receive smear test results. Previously, reports by Dr Gabriel Scally outlined a range of failures in the CervicalCheck screening service.

After the meeting, a 221+ statement said it had been held to discuss all aspects of the CervicalCheck "debacle" but particularly the planned formal apology. It said: "A full apology is only possible with a full understanding of what one was and is responsible for."

It said the meeting was "the beginning of a new dialogue which is now more properly and fully informed in that regard by the work of people like Dr Gabriel Scally and... Prof Brian MacCraith which uncovered the shortcomings that led to this catastrophic systems failure."

The statement also said: "Our objective for an apology is that it begins a healing process for all those impacted negatively by CervicalCheck."

It said the discussions with Mr Varadkar and Mr Harris "embraced that principle".

Mr Harris described the meeting as an opportunity for the Taoiseach to thank Ms Walsh and Mr Teap. He said he found their work, along with the contribution of others like Vicky Phelan - whose High Court case lifted the lid on the screening scandal - to be "invaluable".

He said there would be an apology from the Taoiseach and he expected it to take place after the Dáil's summer recess.

Irish Independent

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