Accountability, action and the restoration of public confidence essential in wake of Cervical Cancer scandal – Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has said that “it is essential that people are held accountable for the catastrophic failures which lead to the Cervical Cancer scandal. The government must take real action to ensure this accountability and take steps to make sure this never happens again.”

Deputy McDonald continued;

“At Leaders Questions today, I told the Taoiseach that Tony O’Brien cannot stay in his role as Director General of the HSE. His position is untenable. Those affected by this scandal need to see the person ultimately responsible for the toxic culture within the HSE held to account. This was not communications mess-up. This was a deliberate and devastating concealment of vital information in order to protect the HSE and the State.

“The Taoiseach needs to ensure that the inquiry into the scandal is fit for purpose. That means ensuring that is given adequate scope and that the terms of reference are correct. The inquiry must cover an appropriate timeline and it must be allocated the necessary resources to get the job done.

“I also challenged the Taoiseach on his failure to support the need for mandatory duty of candour. We cannot allow a situation to continue where important medical information is withheld from patients at the whim of others. There must be legal obligation to communicate details of this nature to the person affected.

“The Taoiseach must also instruct the Minister for Health to examine the outsourcing of the screening process. In 2008, the then government was warned about the potential dangers to women’s lives as a result of that decision. Those dangers have now come to pass. The substance of the warning must be given the credence today that was so lacking ten years ago.

“These are steps that must be taken if public confidence is to be restored.”

The Sinn Féin Leader urged women to continue attending CervicalCheck appointments.

“Despite the current controversy and understandable fear, it is very important women continue to have smear tests. Screening saves lives. Those delivering the frontline service do excellent work and it is essential the justified value we place on smear tests is maintained.”