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Lorraine Walsh resigns from CervicalCheck steering group, says she doesn't have confidence in report

Walsh, who developed cervical cancer, was one of the 221 women whose smear tests were read incorrectly.

LORRAINE WALSH HAS resigned as a patient representative from the steering committee set up to oversee changes in CervicalCheck.

Walsh, who developed cervical cancer, was one of the 221 women whose smear tests were read incorrectly. She was invited to join the CervicalCheck steering group as a patient representative in 2018.

A review of CervicalCheck by the UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) was published yesterday. It found that there were missed opportunities to prevent or diagnose cancer earlier in the cases of 159 women.

However, the report said the screening programme was performing effectively overall.

Speaking on Prime Time last night, Walsh said she did not have confidence in the report.

“I wish I could sit here tonight and tell the women of Ireland I have confidence in that report. I don’t want to be here and I don’t want to be telling the women of Ireland that I don’t have confidence in this, but I absolutely don’t,” she said.

Walsh said “revelations” in recent months “have forced me to examine my own conscience”.

When I got to a stage that I couldn’t sleep at night, I had to resign and I had to leave the CervicalCheck steering committee as the patient representative on it with Stephen Teap.

Walsh said a few months ago the committee learned that information sent from the RCOG to the HSE was inaccurate.

“Even as late as early October, of 581 reports, half of them had to be returned because the detail within them was inaccurate,” she said.

“I felt that I got to a stage where people weren’t listening to my concerns so I could do no other thing but to resign.”

Walsh said women have been waiting for 18 months for the report, saying: “It’s a long time for women to be sitting at home waiting for answers.”

Walsh said many women’s lives have been “robbed” or changed as a result of the controversy. 

“So many women’s lives have been robbed, there are so many men out there that their wives are dead, their daughters, their sisters.

“And people like myself, our lives could’ve been so different. It’s so different, when you look at having a cancer diagnosis and then you realise that it could have been avoided, it’s so hard to come to terms with that.”

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Walsh thanked fellow advocates Vicky Phelan, who has terminal cancer, and Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died from cancer, for their support over the last 18 months. 

She said she still has faith in the screening system itself, stating: “There’s a better chance of your cancer being picked up going for your smears so I say to people please keep screening.”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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