Tánaiste apologises for ‘shameful’ events in Phelan case.

Up to 200 women who later developed cervical cancer had the same missed smear test as Vicky Phelan, it was admitted last night.

In the wake of the Phelan case, Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday ordered Cervical Check to write to the doctors of the women to ensure they communicated the error, where cancer indicators were missed.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said that up to 15 women a year since 2008 should have had their cases escalated in the wake of a smear test but did not.

Mr Harris and Tánaiste Simon Coveney apologised to Ms Phelan for the abject failure in informing her of her condition.

Mr Coveney said: “This is a shameful series of events, particularly in terms of information flow. The tragedy and challenges Vicky Phelan and her family are facing now have been made all the more difficult because of the failings in terms of the passing on of information. And for that I want to apologise to her and to her family.”

Mr Harris said the doctors in all of these cases would have been informed of the misdiagnosis but the letters are to ensure patients are told.

“What we know is that, since 2016, doctors have been receiving the results of the audits in relation to the smear tests of their patients,” he said.

“It is absolutely essential that we establish that those doctors told their patients of the outcomes of those audits. Today, Cervical Check will write to those doctors and ask those doctors to confirm that they have informed their patients.”

To date, since the screening programme began a decade ago, there have been 3m scans performed and a total of 1,400 confirmed diagnoses of cervical cancer.

Vivky 3

(Vicky and Jim Phelan with their solicitor Cian O’Carroll)

Responding to the public outcry following Ms Phelan’s €2.5m settlement with the company which examined her smear, Mr Harris said the doctors would be called on to ensure all women affected were told if they have not been already.

Secondly, he announced a new policy to ensure patients are told about such mistakes in a timely fashion automatically, as opposed to leaving it to the discretion of the doctor.

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear of abnormalities.

By the time she had another smear test in 2014, she had cervical cancer.

Ms Phelan, of Carrigeen, Annacotty, Co Limerick, along with her husband, Jim Phelan, has sued the HSE and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, over the smear test taken under CervicalCheck and analysed in a US laboratory. She was given six to 12 months to live in January this year.


Article courtesy of :  Daniel McConnell and Catherine Shanahan .  Irish Examiner.