Since April, we have learnt about failings in CervicalCheck through the brave testimonies of women and their families affected by the controversy. Beyond the 221 deeply affected women, women across the country are concerned about their screening history. Change has to happen so that all women can regain trust in Ireland’s cancer screening programmes.
The testimony and actions of the women and their families affected by the CervicalCheck has been a huge inspiration. NWCI and our membership thank all of the women who individually and collectively have brought the failings to light.
In May, NWCI met with the Department of Health to highlight our concerns. Two months later, we have consistently seen delays in implementation of the commitments made to women. NWCI continues to be very concerned and is seeking a further meeting with the Department.
Affected women and families given immediate access to supports and treatment to improve their care and ease their suffering in whatever way possible.
Medical records immediately released to the women seeking them.
Compensation made to women and families, without the need for legal proceedings.
Inquiries and reviews provided with the cooperation and resources to complete their work. Quick implementation of recommendations for improvements.
The CervicalCheck controversy has highlighted the need for health policies and services that respond to the specific needs of women and girls. Under the National Strategy for Women and Girls, NWCI, the HSE and the Department of Health are committed to develop a Women’s Health Action Plan. We are currently advocating for adequate funding to develop this plan and for its implementation.
Cervical cancer affects 300 women in Ireland each year. It is vital that we have screening programmes that women trust and meet the highest standard of care.
There are measures immediately required to restore women’s trust in CervicalCheck:
Ensure CervicalCheck is properly resourced to respond to Helpline queries, ensure appointments are available and that smear test results are delivered quickly.
Each woman enrolled in CervicalCheck to receive a letter explaining what she should do if she has concerns about previous smears and outlining the improvements the health service is making to the screening process.
Introduction of the more effective HPV-test. This test has been shown to be more accurate in detecting precancerous abnormalities and early stage cervical cancer.
If you are concerned about your previous smear test, or are experiencing symptoms, you can discuss your concerns with your GP and they can organise a free repeat test if required. Review the information on the CervicalCheck website, or call their information line on 1800 45 45 55.
If you want confidental support and advice, our members the Irish Cancer Society provide the Cancer Nurseline at Freephone 1800 200 700.
If you would like to become involved in showing your support for the women and families directly affected by CervicalCheck, you can link with Standing4Women, which organises solidarity gatherings around the country. Twitter: @standing4women_