Sunday 22 September 2019

Results of smear test reviews to be sent to more than 1,000 women

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Vicky Phelan. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Professor Brian MacCraith. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

Eilish O’Regan

Around 1,000 women who had cervical cancer are to get individual reports from next week telling them if a re-reading of their old test result is still the same or if abnormalities were missed.

The individual reviews were carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The women will not know if negligence was involved if they get another result from the review.

This will need to be proven either in court or in a tribunal that which is being set up to hear legal cases.

The 221+ group - representing women and relatives of those whose test results were at the centre of last year’s controversy - said it was a matter for each of the women whose tests have now been reviewed to decide how they want the information relayed to them.

“A package of advance information will be arriving with the women involved this week which outlines a number of options from which each woman can choose how they wish to receive their report," the 221+ group said today.

“A dedicated HSE information help line is now available on Freefone 1800 832191 to assist women to select the option that best suits them. The detailed reporting of results to each woman will then begin next week. This will be either with a face-to-face meeting or by mail as women choose.

“The HSE has already advised that any woman whose reviewed slides show a significant discordance from her original test results will get immediate access to a package of State supports, including a medical card and counselling.”

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Vicky Phelan. Photo: Fergal Phillips

The statement added: "In parallel, the services of this Patient Support Group – 221+ – are also immediately available to any woman whose slides are reported as discordant in the RCOG review. We can be contacted via the 221+ website, where there is also a lot of relevant information.

“At this point it is important to support the process of communication with the women involved directly and to give them the time and space required to decide what they need.

"The role of 221+ as a patient support group is to assist anyone affected in securing the supports they require and to work with them over time to manage their needs arising and those of their families. “

“The women involved in the RCOG process have waited over a year for an outcome from this independent review of the accuracy of the reporting of their previous cervical smears. In bringing that wait to its full conclusion, it is important that they get absolute clarity.

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Professor Brian MacCraith. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

“The disclosure to women of the RCOG review of their slides is the first opportunity to adopt the ‘Women First’ model of communication that Prof Brian MacCraith recommended in his recent ‘Rapid Review’ of communication by the HSE and the Department of Health with women impacted by the CervicalCheck debacle.

"On behalf of those impacted we hope this opportunity is taken up and we are committed to doing what we can to support and facilitate that outcome."

The 221+ Patient Support Group was established in July 2018 to provide information, advice, and support to the women and families directly affected by failures in the CervicalCheck Screening Programme that came to light following Vicky Phelan’s court case in April 2018.

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