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NWC welcomes substantial progress in Cervical screening programme 

Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The National Women’s Council (NWC) welcomed Dr Gabriel Scally’s follow-up report investigating the implementation of his recommendations after the Cervical Check scandal. We commend the substantial progress and urge follow-up action on the gaps Dr Scally identified.  

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said: 

“The country owes a debt of gratitude to Dr Gabriel Scally for his initial report on the cervical check scandal, which identified a culture of misogyny and paternalism that dismissed women’s voices and experiences. It paved the way for the Women’s Health Action Plan, a milestone in women’s health, and which has significant potential to address systemic deficits. To truly create a culture of care which listens to women and recognises them as experts by experience, we need to revisit the training and supports given to professionals working in healthcare. As the Action Plan acknowledges education and training are the key leavers for change. ” 

We echo Dr Scally’s statement that the best way to honour Vicky Phelan is by implementing his recommendations in full, particularly on mandatory open disclosure for patients. We urge the professional medical bodies to affect a culture change around duty of candour. We also urge An Taoiseach to progress the Patient Safety Bill.  

NWC’s Women’s Health Coordinator Alana Ryan said: 

“Women shouldn’t have to go to court to achieve the truth, an apology or guarantees that what happened to them won’t happen again. The Patient Safety Bill will be a welcome first step towards mandatory open disclosure, but it must be matched by reform from the professional regulatory bodies. There must also be a culture shift towards supporting patient feedback and resolving complaints swiftly. 

Dr Scally also underlined that there is now much less fragmentation in laboratory testing, with use of a single quality-assured American laboratory now analysing all samples. Ms Ryan continued:  

“Substantial progress has been made since Dr Scally’s report. The next step must be to resource and appropriately staff the National Cervical Screening Laboratory in the Coombe so that it can provide these services in Ireland.” 

NWC thanks Dr Gabriel Scally for his ongoing contribution to improving women’s health services on this island. We also commend the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly for commissioning this follow-up review to Dr Scally’s original report. Lessons could be learnt from the transparency and implementation monitoring which has characterised this process, which could be applied to the Women’s Health Action Plan stemming from the review. 

NWC encourages women to keep attending for screening and to have renewed confidence in the cervical screening service. Cervical screening saves lives.  


For comment: Alana Ryan or Orla O’Connor 

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, sineadn@nwci.ie  

About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie