CervicalCheck: Vicky Phelan to take break from campaigning

‘I want the Taoiseach to step up and do something to protect these women’

Vicky Phelan has announced a break from campaigning. Photograph: Collins Courts/File

Vicky Phelan has announced a break from campaigning. Photograph: Collins Courts/File

 

Vicky Phelan is to take a break from campaigning against the CervicalCheck scandal and from Twitter.

Ms Phelan settled a High Court action against a US lab in April after her cancer was missed in a smear test three years before she was diagnosed with the disease. The test was taken as part of the CervicalCheck programme.

The missed smear test was discovered in 2014, after her cancer diagnosis, but she was not told about it until 2017.

Ms Phelan wrote a series of tweets last night outlining her reasons: “I will be taking a break from Twitter and from all #CervicalCheckScandal campaigning after tomorrow, some of you will be glad to know. I am deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy in some quarters towards the women & families affected by the scandal.”

She said: “I can only speak for myself here. For those of you who are condemning me for ‘bringing down the cervical screening programme’, I never missed a smear and NEVER had an abnormal smear until I was diagnosed in July 2014 with invasive cervical cancer.”

“I found out THREE years later, in Sept 2017, that a smear from 2011, which was originally read as ‘No Abnormality Detected’ was, when audited, full of CANCER, not pre-cancer or CINI, II or III but Squamous Cell Carcinoma. P8 for the medical heads.

“IF my smear in 2011 had been CORRECTLY read, I would only have had to have a hysterectomy and would have had a 90 per cent chance of being cured. I will be fighting to stay alive for the rest of my life so forgive me if I am angry and upset and fighting for change.

“I WANT a screening programme that I can trust. I have a daughter that I will be leaving behind. So get off your high horses and help me to change and to ensure that we have a screening programme that we CAN trust.”

Ms Phelan is also seeking an urgent meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week. “I want the Taoiseach to step up and do something to protect these women. It is inhumane to watch,” she said.

The Government is expected to review the mediation process in dealing with some cases of women caught up in the CervicalCheck screening controversy after unexpected legal “aggression” from laboratories at the centre of the scandal.

Mr Varadkar said he should have been clearer when he promised in May that no women involved in the scandal would have to go to court.