Cervical Cancer Scandal in North Raises Questions Over Our Reviews in South - Tóibín
The Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD has said that the emerging scandal in relation to cervical screening in the North, raises significant question marks over the government and HSE's attitudes in the South.
Speaking today Deputy Tóibín said:
"We learned in recent weeks that 17,000 women are to be recalled for smear tests in the North after senior laboratory staff raised concerns over some of the results issued since 2008. A report by the Royal College of Pathologists found that though “the majority of negative results issued by the laboratory were correct, a significant number of women are likely to have had negative screening results from the Southern Trust laboratory which would have been identified as potentially abnormal by other laboratories".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "This is an extremely serious scandal which has echoes of the scandal in the south. Women in the north have been speaking to the media about how they developed cancer despite getting multiple consecutive clear tests. While bearing in mind that cervical screening if not a diagnostic test, and does have a margin of error, it is clear that there are specific issues in the Southern Trust Laboratory which must be investigated fully. I am disappointed to learn that the major review, due to start today, has been delayed. Aontú is deeply concerned at today's revelation that the Belfast Trust has had its accreditation status suspended".
"In the South the courts have provided the test of the system, and have found that samples taken here were misread, and has awarded damages to terminally ill women. We've had a state apology to the women effected. However, some cohorts within the HSE still do not accept that women were wronged. I think this recent development casts clouds over the RCOG report into Cervical Check in the south, which seemed to base its study by comparing us to Britain - the implication has always been that we are in line with Britain - and that this was a good thing. However, recent revelations cast doubt over this assertion and now we must face the integral question on whether we were "as good as" or "as bad as" the NHS? I did take serious issue with the RCOG review at the time. 1,038 Irish slides were reviewed by RCOG, there was a mix up with two of them. These two belonged to Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh respectively. RCOG would have you believe that it was merely a bizarre coincidence that the two most vocal whistleblowers were the two slides which got mislabelled or mixed up as part of the review. There was something fishy about the RCOG report from day one. In the case of confusion over slides the reviewers marked them as "concordant" rather than excluding them from the sample. Given the revelations in the north these past few weeks, we need to re-examine the findings of RCOG in relation to the South", concluded Tóibín.