Government grilled over CervicalCheck controversy after Limerick woman's battle

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Vicky Phelan: 'I could be another one of those women. If I had died I would have been on that list'

Vicky Phelan: 'I could be another one of those women. If I had died I would have been on that list'

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris were grilled in Dail Eireann this Tuesday over the HSE’s blunder in the controversial CervicalCheck audit, which failed to inform 162 women that a review of smear tests was taking place.

This comes less than one week after Annacotty mother-of-two Vicky Phelan was awarded a €2.5m settlement in a High Court case against the HSE and a United States laboratory. 

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 2014, three years after her smear test was incorrectly given the all-clear in 2011.

This January, Ms Phelan – who took the High Action with her husband Jim Phelan – was told that she had six to 12 months to live.

It later emerged that 208 women were affected by the screening controversy. And of this cohort, 162 women were not told that CervicalCheck had carried out a review, nor were they informed of the outcome. 

The HSE confirmed this week that of the 162, 17 women have died.

However, it has yet to be confirmed the number who have died as a result of cervical cancer.

In an interview on RTE Radio One on Monday, Ms Phelan said: “I could be another one of those women. If I had died I would have been on that list. Thankfully I didn’t and I’m here to tell the tale.

“And by God I’m going to take these guys on. I think it’s disgraceful what they’ve been doing to the women of Ireland.”

Taoiseach Varadkar and Minister Harris responded to questions put to them by the opposition in the Dail on Tuesday afternoon.

HSE director general, Tony O’Brien is also facing political pressure, as Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald told the media on Tuesday that he should resign or be sacked. 

Fianna Fail TD for Limerick City, Willie O’Dea, says the Government must not delay in the establishment of the independent inquiry into the Cervical Check controversy.  

Deputy O'Dea welcomed the move to set up an independent investigation, but warned that it must not be used to withhold information from the public.