| 5.7°C Belfast

Terminally ill Irish mum Vicky Phelan calls for overhaul after smear test scandal

Vicky Phelan

A terminally ill woman who cast light on the Republic of Ireland's cervical screening controversy has called for a radical overhaul of the Irish health service, insisting she does not want to die in vain.

Mother-of-two Vicky Phelan, whose smear test was wrongly interpreted, yesterday told a parliamentary committee looking into patients impacted by the issue that health officials need to be held accountable.

"I'm not interested in revenge," Ms Phelan said. "That's not what I'm here for."

The 43-year-old, from Co Limerick, said she wants the outcome of the controversy to be accountability.

"I want to make sure there are protocols put in place where sanctions for people who make this mistake are held accountable and that the HSE (Health Service Executive) is overhauled from the ground up so that people are held accountable and that this never happens again in any shape or form," she said.

Last month, Ms Phelan settled a High Court action for €2.5m (£2.2m) after being incorrectly told in 2011 that her smear test had given a negative result for cancer.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 but was only told of the false negative last September.

Stephen Teap, from Co Cork, whose wife Irene died last year after two undisclosed false tests, also addressed the committee.

He expressed his anger that he has only been informed in the past two weeks and that his wife died without ever knowing that her smear tests had been wrongly interpreted.

"Irene had two missed opportunities for cancer to be identified in her smear tests, either one of which she would have been still here today," he said.

Earlier this month it emerged that an audit by the Cervical Check screening programme of 1,482 women diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008 had found potential errors in earlier smear tests in 209 of the cases, with results showing no abnormalities when they should have flagged a cancer warning. Of the 209 women, 18 have since died.

Belfast Telegraph