Tuesday 20 November 2018

Dr Ciara Kelly: Despite everything, women should still feel reasonably secure that checks work

Keeping a patient in the dark is unforgivable, but any testing system will throw up false negatives, writes Dr Ciara Kelly

For abnormal cells. Stock photo
For abnormal cells. Stock photo
Dr Ciara Kelly

Dr Ciara Kelly

It's been a difficult few weeks for women. And that's an understatement. Vicky Phelan's court case over her treatment by CervicalCheck, our national cervical cancer screening programme, has caused a great deal of distress for many of us. And hearing words such as 'scandal', 'crisis' and 'cover up' when it is in relation to cancer treatment in a 42-year-old mother is something that was always going to make people feel rightly angry and afraid.

What was clear to me looking at this unfold last week was that, certainly initially, neither the Minister for Health nor the Opposition spokespeople understood exactly what was going on. And it was also clear that - despite no one understanding it - that wasn't going to stop political point-scoring or, indeed, media scaremongering, even if women were being terrified in the process.

So I'd like to attempt to allay some of that fear and reassure woman that despite everything they've heard, there's still reason for them to feel reasonably secure that CervicalCheck is working and they don't have to feel the level of anxiety and fear that I believe they've been experiencing.

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