CervicalCheck inquiry’s final report due in September
Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap to launch patient advocacy group on the same day
Vicky Phelan was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year after signs of the illness were missed in previous smear tests conducted under the CervicalCheck programme. She was not told her test had been misread until 2016. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
The Scally Inquiry into the CervicalCheck scandal involving dozens of women’s smear tests being misread is to publish its final report on September 1st.
On the same day Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap will launch a new patient advocacy and support group for people affected by the controversy. This has been arranged in conjunction with Dr Gabriel Scally who is conducting the inquiry, Ms Phelan and Mr Teap said on Wednesday.
Ms Phelan was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year after signs of the illness were missed in previous smear tests conducted under the CervicalCheck programme. She was not told her test had been misread until 2016.
Mr Teap lost his wife Irene to cervical cancer last year after her tests were also misread. Both were speaking on Wednesday at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co. Donegal.
Asked what he expects to come from the Scally report, Mr Teap said any follow-up commission of inquiry must be held in public.
“Imagine doing an investigation into a cover-up behind closed doors in this country with the political heads that we have. It won’t work.”
Ms Phelan was adamant they don’t want a full tribunal on the matter “because that will take too long”.
She said their patient support group is being funded by the Department of Health for three years. They have been promised there will be no interference from the HSE, she said.
A full-time nurse will be hired to deal with enquiries from people whose scans have been misread. Some estimates put the number of affected women at over 400.
Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer after a US company, Clinical Pathology Labratories, misread her smear test. She wasn’t told her test had been misread until 2016. In April she settled with CPL for a record €2.5 million.
As part of the settlement, her case against the HSE was dropped with no admission of liability.
On Wednesday she revealed for the first time the State made a €25,000 contribution to the CPL settlement, a fact she only learned from Dr Scally.
“Gabriel knew how outraged I was over the lack of admission so he told me when I met him one of the days up in Dublin.”
Ms Phelan said she views the €25,000 contribution as some admission of liability on the part of the HSE.
“They have to accept some bit of responsibilty if they’re contributing to the settlement.”