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One of 208 women affected by smear test scandal 'fighting' to get medical card back

The woman was recently told that her smear test had been reviewed and a different action could have been taken.

Image: Shutterstock/Image Point Fr

ON THURSDAY, FIANNA Fáil Deputy leader Dara Calleary told the Dáil that one of the 208 women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal is “being put through the ringer” to get her medical card back.

The woman had a medical card for years, but when she reapplied for it around two months ago, she was refused. Since then she and her family have been fighting to get the medical card back.

The woman has been receiving treatment for cervical cancer since 2016. In the past week, she received a phone call to say that she was one of the 208 women whose CervicalCheck smear tests were reviewed and found to have been misread or misinterpreted.

HSE General Director Tony O’Brien said earlier this week that he couldn’t guarantee that withholding the information about the reviewed smear tests didn’t have an impact on some women’s cancer treatment.

The smear test scandal came to light after Limerick mother-of-two Vicky Phelan settled a High Court case for €2.5 million; the action was taken against the US laboratory which analysed her test. Phelan’s 2011 smear test results were reviewed in 2014, where an error was found.

She wasn’t told about the review or the error until 2017, three years after receiving a cervical cancer diagnosis.

‘Entirely separate division’

Calleary told the Dáil that the woman in question was being “put through the ringer” trying to get her medical card back, but was able to get a call about the review of her smear test discovering a false negative.

He asked whether all 208 women affected by a false negative or a lack of further testing would be given full medical supports as part of their compensation.

The HSE told TheJournal.ie that medical cards fall under the Primary Care Reimbursement Service, which “is an entirely separate division” of the HSE to CervicalCheck.

We do not have any information in relation to anyone’s medical card status and we cannot comment on individual cases.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Calleary said that it was “absolutely disgraceful that this women was put into this situation”.

He said that there was “a need to put all the information and healthcare details of these women in one area, so that they aren’t going from Billy to Jack for basic healthcare”.

He said that this would avoid the fight that this woman is going through for a medical card.

The woman’s family are fighting for the card still, but they shouldn’t have to. It will only take one or two people to create a central unit where all women can go to with their queries.

Health Minister Simon Harris has already announced the launch of a Hiqa statutory investigation into the CervicalCheck screening programme, but there have also been calls from the opposition for an inquiry that would be public and transparent.

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