Thursday 21 June 2018

'I have faith in what he is doing' - Vicky Phelan backs doctor conducting CervicalCheck inquiry

Vicky Phelan, who will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Vicky Phelan, who will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick. Picture: Fergal Phillips

Sean Nolan and Kevin Doyle

The terminally ill woman whose court case began the ongoing cervical cancer screening scandal has said that she believes in the doctor in charge of the inquiry into CervicalCheck.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's DriveTime programme, Vicky Phelan said that she backed the work of Dr. Gabriel Scally.

"I have faith in what he is doing", said Ms Phelan, adding that she had met with him and that "I know that he trusts my opinion and I trust him".

Earlier Dr Scally had appeared on the same show in the wake of the publication of his first interim report into the scandal.

He admitted the work was "more complex than we could have imagined" and he cited difficulties in obtaining information and the volume of documents the inquiry will have to work on.

'The problem is the volume of information that we're going to have to go through and its availability to us, because it is not yet coming either in quantity I would want it or in the way I would want it', Dr Scally said.

Speaking later, Ms Phelan said: 'I'm not surprised that Gabriel has been stonewalled to be honest, I know he didn't use the term but I certainly would'.

Earlier Dr Scally's first interim report recommended that the 209 women who suffered delayed cancer diagnosis as part of CervicalCheck scandal are to be given one-off payment of €2,000 from the State.

Dr Scally’s first report makes six recommendations relating to how best to support women affected by the ongoing scandal and improve the information available to user of the CervicalCheck service.

Aside from the compensation, he now plans to hold "structured conversations" with each of the women impact who wish to have their experience documented.

Dr Scally also recommends:

  • The Provision of a more comprehensive guide to the CervicalCheck screening programme online.
  • That the information statements provided to women about the limitations of the tests should be more explicit about the possible reasons why screening might miss abnormalities that are present as these can result in the development of cervical cancer.
  • That the information for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that they will have full and open access to their cervical screening record on request.
  • That the information for women accompanying the consent form should guarantee that should there be a problem or error of any significance with the screening or reporting process, open disclosure of all the details will take place in a timely, considerate and accurate manner.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the UK expert found the provision of information to women in Ireland who take part in screening tests "is comparable with that available elsewhere and in some respects is better".

"He also found that the process of completing a consent form at the time of screening is a major strength of the Irish programme," the minister said.

"However, he does make a number of important recommendations to improve the information provided to women, including strengthening the statements on the limitations of screening. I will immediately ask the HSE to implement the four recommendations related to this."

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