Stephen Teap: ‘These labs denied Oscar and Noah a life with their mother’

Irene Teap died aged 35 in July 2017 from cervical cancer after abnormalities in her smear tests were not reported

Two screening laboratories have admitted in the High Court that they were in breach of their duty when they each failed to report abnormalities in the smear tests of Irene Teap who later died of cervical cancer.

Ms Teap was 35 when she died in July 2017 after being diagnosed with stage 2 cancer in September 2015. She had received negative smear test results in 2010 and 2013.

Her widower, Stephen Teap, and their sons Oscar and Noah settled their legal claims for personal injuries, severe psychiatric upset, loss and damage on Thursday against the Health Service Executive and the two laboratories.

The following is a full transcript of what Stephen Teap said outside the court:

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“The day Irene got diagnosed with cervical cancer she asked the following question – ‘how did this happen? I did everything right.’ The day the HSE called me to say they had audited Irene’s slides and showed different results. I knew then that I had to get the answers to the question how did this happen.

“I’ve dedicated the last four and a half years in battling, seeking the truth for Irene. At every turn obstacles were put in my way by the HSE and the laboratories who misread Irene’s smears. What was most important to me was to firstly get the answer to Irene’s question: how did this happen? Nobody answered this question when she got diagnosed with cancer, nor did they answer it when Irene died even though they had the results of those audits telling them clearly that the smears were misread.

“Secondly, so that our children Oscar and Noah in years to come would know that I did absolutely everything I could in not letting those who wanted to hide the truth get away with burying it.

“I got a lot of help along the way – firstly Pat Daly and all my legal team in Cantilons who fought in Irene’s name, secondly Dr Gabriel Scally who discovered through his own investigations this system was doomed to fail, but my biggest thanks goes to my incredible friend Vicky Phelan. Vicky may not be here today with us but I know she’s here in spirit, standing next to Irene knowing that today the truth was achieved.

“Today we receive a full admission of liability from the labs CPL and MedLab, that they did misread Irene’s slides and in doing so delayed her cervical cancer diagnosis which caused her death.

“A properly run and well funded screening programme is the least the women and families of Ireland deserve. Over the years it has saved hundreds and thousands of lives in Ireland, but it hasn’t saved some. A minor few medical professionals who don’t know better keep going on about the limitations of screening and that’s all the CervicalCheck debacle about.

“I want you, them, those medical professionals, particularly to hear this now, what happened to Irene goes way beyond the limitations of screening. Screening should have saved Irene’s life, but didn’t. The labs involved have, less than three weeks before the trial was due to begin,  admitted their negligence and admitted they breached their duty of care to Irene. She would be alive and well today if they just did their job.

“These labs denied Irene her life, these labs denied Irene the opportunity to be a mum and raise her kids, these labs denied her life with her parents and sisters, but most importantly these labs denied Oscar and Noah a life with their mother. Shame on them all.

“The blood of my wife and the incredible friends I’ve made who have passed away is on the Government’s hands and those politicians who failed to listen. Oscar, Noah and my world ended when Irene’s life ended – we now start our next chapter and focus on repairing the damage done.

“Maybe the Government should now look at doing the same.”

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter