Harris shows ‘lack of compassion’ for women given incorrect smear test results

Campaigner Stephen Teap says minister response has downplayed independent review

Cervical cancer campaigner Stephen Teap has said he is not happy with the "lack of compassion" shown by the Minister for Health for the women who were given incorrect cervical smear test results.

Mr Teap was speaking following the independent review of the Cervical Check programme undertaken by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

“We are a very long way from getting to the end of this debacle,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The Minister’s response had been to take “snippets” from the independent review “to try to downplay it and to ignore the pain and suffering of those women and their families.”


There were mistakes and failures in the system as confirmed by Dr Gabriel Scally, said Mr Teap.

An awful lot of work remains to be done before confidence in the service can grow, he said. But he emphasised that screening is very important and that woman should continue to be screened.

On the same programme, Fianna Fáil's health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to offer a "full and frank apology" to Lorraine Walsh and the woman impacted by the incorrect readings.

He also called for the immediate introduction of the HPV test which will save lives, he said and was promised last year.

Mr Teap also paid tribute to his fellow campaigner Lorraine Walsh who resigned as a patient advocate on Tuesday. She had done so because she was not being listened to or respected, he said.

“She was under massive pressure and strains. At the end of the day Lorraine has to put herself first.”

Ms Walsh said she “absolutely” does not have confidence in the process of reviewing women’s smear tests led by the UK-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and as an advocate she could not say to other affected women that they should have confidence in the process.

Speaking on RTÉ's Primetime on Tuesday night, she revealed two of the three cases dealt with by RCOG in which mislabelling of slides occurred involved her own slides and those of fellow patient advocate Vicky Phelan.

Referring to the erosion of her own trust in the process, she called on the Government to fund “individualised, independent assessments” for affected women “so they can get the truth”.