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Dublin: 11°C Monday 23 May 2022

Taoiseach to deliver State apology to women affected by CervicalCheck scandal

Today Dr Gabriel Scally said some women had been “treated appallingly”.

Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

THE TAOISEACH IS expected offer a formal apology in the Dáil today to women and families affected by failures in the CervicalCheck screening programme.

The issues with the screening programme emerged after a High Court case taken by Vicky Phelan last year. The service failed to tell women who had been diagnosed with cancer that their original smear tests had been reviewed after their diagnosis.

In some cases the reviews found false negatives in tests and women in these cases may have benefited from an earlier diagnosis and earlier care.

Dr Gabriel Scally, who was tasked by the government with examining the screening programme, found that there were failures “from top to bottom”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Dr Scally said some of the women he spoke to while he was working on his reports had been “treated appallingly badly”. 

He said there are three thing that matter to people when scandals like this happen – being told the truth, having someone say sorry “and really mean it” and being told how the same failures will be avoided in the future.

Scally said the publication of his reports and the implementation of his recommendations cover two of those requirements, but the part that has been missing is “someone actually saying sorry, apologising and really meaning it, for what went wrong and the trauma”.

He said work by the HSE on the implementation of his recommendations has been “very good” but there is “plenty more to do”.

Dr Scally said the introduction of HPV testing rather than the smear test approach will mean the process is more accurate going forward. 

He said he expects the apology today will be a broader one, not just to the women and families directly affected, but also to those whose results were delayed due to backlogs and those who were frightened by the scandal.

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“It has been a very disturbing episode in healthcare and it’s only right and proper that the Taoiseach apologises” he said.

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