Thursday 13 December 2018

Women urged to have 'faith' in cancer screening despite controversy

Josepha Madigan. Photo: Tom Burke
Josepha Madigan. Photo: Tom Burke

Shona Murray and Kevin Doyle

Women should continue to have "faith" in cervical cancer screening in spite of the recent controversy regarding auditing of cervical cancer diagnosis.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan described as “deeply depressing” the revelation that of 3,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008, 1,482 of these cases were notified to CervicalCheck and included in an audit. However, it emerged last night that 1,518 were not.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris is today meeting with the health spokespersons from opposition parties, and will appear on the Oireachtas Committee on health.

“It’s deeply distressing” and it’s important that all of those women who already were diagnosed with cancer but are told about the previous audit get clarification on that”, said Minister Madigan.

“The inquiry is going to find out all these facts and the sooner the better, because we want women to still get cervical checks and we want women to have faith that if they go to get a smear check or a breast check”, she said.

Read more: What happens next for women in Ireland concerned about cervical cancer scandal?

Ms Madigan refused to be drawn on whether HSE CEO Tony O’Brien should resign from his position; even though he is due to do so this summer.

“We have to look at the inquiry before we make an announcement on” the decision regarding the fate of Tony O’Brien, CEO of the HSE, she said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD has joined the ranks of those calling on the boss of the HSE to resign.

Kildare TD Fiona O'Loughlin is the first member of the main Opposition to call for Mr O'Brien's to step down as a result of the cervical cancer scandal.

She told Kildare FM that as the investigation takes place other people "may well" have to lose their jobs - but for the moment Mr O'Brien is the identifiable person linked to this scandal.

Sinn Fein has already called for him to "resign or be sacked".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the HSE Director General, who is due to retire in August, should be given a fair hearing.

And Government sources told "The easy thing to do would be sack him but that might delay us getting us answers."

But they added: "Don't rule anything out in that regard. Tensions are very, very high."

If the wider Fianna Fáil party backs Ms O'Loughlin then the Government might feel it has no option but to sacrifice Mr O'Brien.

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