CervicalCheck Helpline Goes Live Amid Screening Controversy

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A CervicalCheck helpline has gone live today to help those with concerns over smear tests and the national screening programme.

The Health Department has also appointed a senior medical team to take charge of the programme, amid controversy surrounding the service’s management.

It recently emerged that 206 women who developed cancer were wrongly given the all-clear, which was only discovered when their tests were re-examined after they were diagnosed.

The issue was brought to light this week following the tragic case of Vicky Phelan. Mrs Phelan was recently awarded €2.5m in a High Court action against a US laboratory, after being given the wrong smear test results, leading to a delay in her cancer diagnosis.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has now established a review of the process, to establish how the scandal was allowed to unfold.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland has welcomed the decision. Director Orla O’Connor says women must have full confidence in the system:

“We have always advocated and campaigned for resources for screening, particularly in relation to cervical screening because it is the best measure we have to avoid cervical cancer, which is a dreadful cancer, but is one that, if caught early enough, can be managed.”

The clinical director of CervicalCheck – Grainne Flannely – says it’s vital that women continue to be screened. She says standards here are comparable to others throughout the world.