Belfast Telegraph

CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan has no confidence in review

She backed the decision of fellow campaigner Lorraine Walsh to step down from the CervicalCheck patient steering committee.

The review analysed 1,659 slides from 1,038 women or their next of kin (PA)
The review analysed 1,659 slides from 1,038 women or their next of kin (PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan has said she does not have confidence in the most recent review of the programme.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists UK (RCOG) published its review findings on Tuesday into Ireland’s CervicalCheck controversy.

The review found 159 “missed opportunities” to prevent or diagnose cancer, and that 12 women have died in circumstances where the panel felt there was “a missed opportunity to prevent or diagnose their cancer at an earlier stage, which means a cure would’ve been more likely”.

Just hours after the review was published, campaigner Lorraine Walsh stepped down from the CervicalCheck patient steering committee, saying she had no faith in the process.

Ms Walsh received two conflicting letters on her own smear test results.

She says she was first told her slides could not be traced but was then given a set of results, however 24 hours later she was presented with a new report with entirely different results.

Speaking on Prime Time, Ms Walsh said: “I wish I could sit here 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.”

On Thursday, Ms Phelan took to social media to say she fully supports Ms Walsh’s decision.

She wrote: “I share Lorraine’s concerns about the RCOG review process. I would like to state, for the record, that I do not have confidence in the RCOG review process.

“It is notable that the focus by Government was on RCOG’s endorsement of the screening programme, rather than on the impact of the findings for those women and families, which was actually the purpose of the review.

“Lorraine’s decision was based on an unwavering commitment to the women and families of the 221+ group, a group that Lorraine helped found and which she has dedicated the past 12 months of her life helping women and families caught up in this debacle.

“Lorraine has requested that each woman be given the option of getting individual independent reviews of their smear screening, cytological and clinical history.

“This is the only way to conclusively give peace of mind to the women and families affected.

“This is an essential step to ensure that lingering concerns about past failures in CervicalCheck do not undermine future confidence in the screening programme, a programme we both want to restore trust in.”

The review analysed 1,659 slides from 1,038 women or their next of kin, 1,034 had invasive cancer and four had “high grade abnormal changes”.

In total, the RCOG disagreed with CervicalCheck results in about a third of cases they analysed – 308 out of the 1,034 women with cancer.

The CervicalCheck scandal in 2018 saw around 221 women with cervical cancer not informed that smear test results showing them to be clear were inaccurate, and revised test results were then kept from them.

Out of the more than 1,000 women involved in the review, 60 are part of the 221+ group set up for survivors and their families involved in the CervicalCheck controversy.

PA

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