An­other 60 women ap­ply to sup­port group af­ter Cer­vi­calCheck smear tests re­view

The Irish Times - - Front Page - PAUL CULLEN Health Ed­i­tor

An­other 60 women have ap­plied to join the sup­port group for those af­fected by the Cer­vi­calCheck con­tro­versy af­ter an in­de­pen­dent re­view of their smear tests found ab­nor­mal­i­ties were missed.

The women are among hun­dreds who have re­ceived a “dis­cor­dant” re­sult from a re­view of their slides led by the Royal Col­lege of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists (RCOG) in the UK.

This means the re­view – which re-ex­am­ined the slides of more than 1,000 women who had been tested for the disease un­der Cer­vi­calCheck, were given the all-clear and later de­vel­oped can­cer – pro­duced a re­sult that was dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal find­ing by Cer­vi­calCheck, with pos­si­ble im­pli­ca­tions for the women’s treat­ment and health out­comes.

An over­view report from RCOG is due to go be­fore Cabi­net today, af­ter which it will be pub­lished. The Gov­ern­ment also plans to pub­lish new pa­tient safety leg­is­la­tion af­ter Cabi­net, which will pro­vide for manda­tory open dis­clo­sure of se­ri­ous in­ci­dents in the health ser­vices, as well as the li­cens­ing of pub­lic and pri­vate hos­pi­tals.

Un­der the Pa­tient Safety (No­ti­fi­able Pa­tient Safety In­ci­dents) Bill be­ing brought to Cabi­net, doc­tors will have to no­tify pa­tients and their em­ploy­ers of se­ri­ous in­ci­dents

Con­tro­versy erupted

The ad­di­tional women who have con­tacted the 221+ Pa­tient Sup­port Group on foot of the RCOG re­view are likely to qual­ify for the same set of sup­ports that were made avail­able to the orig­i­nal group when the Cer­vi­calCheck con­tro­versy erupted last year.

With up to 30 per cent of the 1,000 slides re-ex­am­ined in the re­view pro­duc­ing some form of dis­cor­dant re­sult, it is likely they will be joined by more women seek­ing sup­ports as well as ac­cess to the tri­bunal be­ing set up to process claims in pri­vate.

A sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the cases ex­am­ined by RCOG were des­ig­nated for pri­or­ity pro­cess­ing, though in some in­stances this was be­cause the women in­volved were dead or were al­ready mem­bers of the 221+ group.

The RCOG re­view is also ex­pected to say the per­for­mance of the Cer­vi­calCheck pro­gramme is “broadly in line” with that of cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ing pro­grammes in the UK. The re­view looked at slides pro­cessed from 2008 up to last year and does not re­late to the cur­rent op­er­a­tions of Cer­vi­calCheck, whose gov­er­nance has been over­hauled since last year’s con­tro­versy.

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