ICA group to support women with cancer misdiagnoses


Carmel Dawson, national president of the 14,500-strong Irish Countrywomen's Association, has pledged to continue to lobby for "fair play" for women who receive wrong cancer diagnosis.

At a public meeting in Dublin's Burlington Hotel at the weekend before a turnout of 1,100 women, Ms Dawson said the ICA action support group was growing in strength daily.

"We have already had meetings in Laois and Offaly and we were very heartened by the turnout in Dublin on Saturday because of the short notice and lack of pre-publicity," she said.

The meetings were being organised by guild members and the media were not informed because some of the victims and their families might have difficulty speaking publicly about the issues, she said.

"We will be holding another meeting this week in Limerick and I understand that there will be a meeting in Galway soon. We will meet anywhere there is a need. I have asked for an urgent meeting with the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, but to be honest, I am not hearing the right noises coming back from her."

Ms Dawson said she had not called for the Minister's resignation.

"We have been holding meetings where we are asked to hold them in support of the women who have found themselves in this terrible situation."

She said the meetings were to show support for the victims and to offer counselling and to fight for fair play for them.

"We want, for instance, travel passes for those people involved and passes for people to travel with them to get proper treatment where ever they have to go," she said.

"In many parts of rural Ireland there is not a public transport system and where this happens there should be vouchers for taxis so victims can travel in some sort of comfort.

"We support the centre of excellence idea put forward by the Minister and we believe that such centres would reduce the incidence of misdiagnosis that have been reported."

She said if the Breast Check scheme had been put in place when it should have, there would have been fewer problems.

Ms Dawson said the involvement of the ICA, which is a non-political organisation, in the health area began many years ago when its members sought a faster roll-out of BreastCheck. "We were told there would be a full national service by October this year but now it looks like it could be 2009 before this happens."

She said she did not fear that the ICA involvement could damage its non-political stance. "As far as I am concerned, governments are put in place to rule. Oppositions are there to oppose and the ICA is there to lobby."