CervicalCheck: What the women affected told Dr Gabriel Scally

‘When I tried to question my oncologist further, he ushered me out the door’

Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and died in 2017 has said the priority now is to ensure the immediate implementation of the recommendations from the Scally Report. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

During his inquiry into the CervicalCheck screening programme Dr Gabriel Scally met many women, and their relatives, impacted by the controversy to hear how their cases were handled.

Below are some of the testimonies from those affected which are published in his report:

“I had a missed smear and I am unable to have a family that I so desperately wanted. It hurts to hear that your life could have been different.”

“The argument that there are some patients who doctors feel ‘don’t want to know’ is NOT an excuse. It was blatantly obvious to all my medical professionals that I was a patient who wanted to know everything about my treatment, yet the letter from CervicalCheck placed no obligation on anyone to tell me about the audit.”

“When I tried to question my oncologist further on what this meant and if I had cancer 3½ years prior to diagnosis, he shut down, refused to answer the simplest of questions and ushered me out the door with no support and many questions.”

“He said, ‘I withheld information from you.’ ”

“He said he didn’t know the protocol.”

“He said it had got lost in the file.”

“He said it was caveated not to disclose.”

“He basically lied to me.”

“He couldn’t look me in the eye.”

“He had seen I had had a hysterectomy and decided I didn’t need to know.”

Woman: “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell my clinicians?”

Consultant: “What difference does it make?”

Woman: “How will I be informed from now on?”

Consultant: “Watch the news.”

“To think I’ve gone to him over the years and he has said nothing.”

“So, am I just a number? Did my document/life get lost in the system? Does anyone care?”

“My initial feelings were, ‘Thank God I am alive to take the call.’ But as the days and weeks went by, I thought about nothing else, my feelings changed to what I can only describe as anger and a deep feeling of neglect by our health system.”

“Why does it always happen to women?”

“I think there is a history of looking at women’s health services as being secondary.”

“Women and women’s rights are not taken seriously.”

“Paternalism is alive and well.”

“I know in my heart she would have wanted to know.” (Husband of one of the deceased women)