Wednesday 24 October 2018

Three women involved in audit of smear test results have died - Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan from Annacotty, Co. Limerick, pictured speaking to the media on leaving the Four Courts Picture: Collins Courts
Vicky Phelan from Annacotty, Co. Limerick, pictured speaking to the media on leaving the Four Courts Picture: Collins Courts
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Three Irish women whose smear test results had to be audited have died, according to Vicky Phelan.

In an extensive interview in today's Sunday Independent, Ms Phelan reveals that when she was told in September 2017 that she was one of 10 women whose test results were being examined in 2014, she asked had any of them died.

"[My doctor] told me he knew of three," she says.

On The Week in Politics on RTÉ Minister for Health Simon Harris said he did not know how many women may have died in connection with the cervical smear testing failures.

The news comes as the former Clinical Director of CervicalCheck, Dr Gráinne Flannelly stood down from her position last night.

She told the HSE of her intention to resign  saying she was sorry that recent events caused distress and worry to women.

Vicky Phelan and family
Vicky Phelan and family

Dr Flannelly said she had decided to step aside to allow the service continue its important work.

"I would like this evening to announce that I have taken a decision to stand aside from my role as Clinical Director of CervicalCheck with immediate effect.

"I am sorry that recent events caused distress and worry to women. I have decided to step aside to allow the Programme to continue it's important work.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the doctors, nurses and programme staff of CervicalCheck for their continued hard work and commitment towards delivering a first-class service for the women of Ireland."

Read More: Vicky Phelan says Simon Harris called her personally to apologise

Earlier the Minister for Health Simon Harris said he had lost confidence in senior management in CervicalCheck.

Vicky Phelan and husband Jim outside the High Court. Picture: Courtpix
Vicky Phelan and husband Jim outside the High Court. Picture: Courtpix

A temporary medical team has been installed to examine patient records and reviews with the aim of communicating all information to women involved.

Ms Phelan, the terminally ill woman whose incorrect cancer test result has shone a light on the CervicalCheck programme, has revealed that Minister for Health Simon Harris called her personally to apologise.

Ms Phelan revealed on the Ray D'Arcy Show on RTÉ 1 last night that Minster Harris rang her to personally apologise for what happened to her.

"As soon as I heard the voice I knew who it was and he said 'hi Vicky, it is Simon Harris here'," Ms Phelan explained.

"'I just wanted to call you personally to apologise for what has happened to you but he also wanted to thank me for still encouraging women to go for smears and for promoting the Cervical screening programme' he said.

"I said to him basically look, what has happened to me is awful. I do believe in the programme, cervical smears do save women's lives and what I don't want to happen is more women diagnosed with cervical cancer and I thought it was important that I come out and say that because I think people would listen to me rather than the HSE at the moment."

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