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'You have been failed': Taoiseach apologises to terminally ill woman over missed cervical cancer diagnosis

Martin said he hoped the apology offered today will bring the family some small solace.

Image: Cian O’Carroll Solicitors

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has apologised on behalf of the state to Patricia Carrick and her family following a misreading of her CervicalCheck smear test.

Martin said the mother of four had been failed and that he hoped the apology offered today will bring the family some small solace. 

The HSE and a testing laboratory apologised in the High Court last month to Patricia, who is terminally ill with cancer, for a smear test which they acknowledge was read in a manner that was negligent.

The apology came after she settled her High Court action for €2.75 million in damages.

Patricia was too ill to attend the Four Courts last month as she was in hospital in Galway. A letter of apology was sent to the Carrick family.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Martin said he was contacted late Friday evening by Damien Carrick to talk about the “terrible experience” of the Carrick family.

Martin said they were a happy family looking forward to life but on 29 July Patricia got a call telling her it was likely she had cancer. In September of this year, Patricia was told the cancer was terminal. 

“It didn’t have to be this way. In May 2016, Trish went for her scheduled smear test, a health procedure that she always took very seriously, and never missed,” he said. 

“If there had been an accurate reading of this sample, Trisha’s cancer would have been identified in good time, the appropriate treatment would have been given, and chances are she and Damien would have been reflecting together on a worrying time in their lives with the illness well behind them. But there wasn’t an accurate reading. 

“Instead, the HSE and Medlab Pathology Ltd have now acknowledged that the sample of 31st of May 2016 was read in a manner that was negligent.

“The cancer was missed, the cancer spread, and the cancer is now terminal. 

“Last Friday, I spoke to Damien and apologised. On that call, he said he, Trish and the family would appreciate it if I would apologise in public.

“I have absolutely no hesitation in doing so.

“On behalf of the government and on behalf of the nation, I offer my genuine and heartfelt apologies to Trish, to Damien and to their son Ciarán, to their daughters Ríoghna and Sorcha, and to Eoin.  You have been failed.

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“Trish was badly let down and your family is going to the very worst of times because of the mistakes of others.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said:

“I want to say to them that we need to learn from this because apologies have to translate into concrete action.

Anything less than that fails Patricia, fails the women of Ireland, and fails their families.”

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said: “The real thing we can do is to make sure an apology never has to be given in this House again.”

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Adam Daly

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