Minster must act to reassure women and release all the information on the Cervical Smear Scandal – McDonald

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has called upon Minister for Health Simon Harris to end the culture of secrecy and withholding information that exists in the HSE and move swiftly to provide reassurance and supports to women who may now have very legitimate concerns about smear tests they have received.

Speaking today, Teachta McDonald said,

“The experience of Vicky Phelan, and the news at least 206 women developed cervical cancer after a misdiagnosis, has caused widespread concern and anxiety for women.

“At this stage, we have more questions than answers. We need to know how many more women like Vicky Phelan are out there, how many women were failed by the system, how many have developed cancer that could and should have been treated, and how many have died.

“The delay in passing the information from the company and doctors to patients is unconscionable.

“The Minster for Health must act and must act immediately. He must direct the HSE to issue a circular to all GP’s to pass on all relevant information to patients. There can be no more delays.

“Many women will be worried about the reliability of their smear tests, worried that they may have an undiagnosed cancer.

“The Minster must immediately move to establish a helpline to provide information, reassurance, advice, and rebooking of smear tests. The state needs to pick up the cost of their mistake.

“The failure by the HSE and company to inform Vicky and other women is a terrible wrong. Their approach to the court case is a scandal. Someone oversaw this, and someone agreed to this strategy.

“The culture of withholding information in the HSE must end. They are accountable to the department and to the government. Ministers cannot hide from their responsibility.

“This Minster must act to establish the helpline and new tests, to end the withholding of information, and must hold those responsible to account.”