Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says the government must move swiftly to allay the fears of women who are worried about smear test results as a result of the CervicalCheck scandal.

She’s calling on Minister Simon Harris to ensure that the independent inquiry announced by the government is established without delay and that a report on the controversy is published as soon as possible.

“Women across Mayo are justifiably worried about their own experiences with the CervicalCheck programme, and particularly the outcome of their smear tests.  The drip-drip feed of information from CervicalCheck, the HSE and the Health Minister Simon Harris has heightened anxiety, especially when they read about or listen to the ordeal which Vicky Phelan was put through in order to get information about her own case.

“The fact that as many as 17 women at the centre of the CervicalCheck controversy have died is truly shocking and will undoubtedly increase fear levels among women who have, up until last week, placed their faith in the system.  The revelations from Minister Harris last night that there are a “potentially considerable number of cases” where women who developed cancer were not subjected to an audit are compounding women’s fears.

“I welcome the independent inquiry announced by the government; however it cannot be allowed to delay any further information from entering the public domain.  We need full disclosure from CervicalCheck, the HSE, and the Health Minister as to what mistakes were made.

“The way in which CervicalCheck and the HSE handled this case has been truly appalling.  Women should not be forced to go to court to find out information about their own medical care.  Despite these horrific cases, women should not be deterred from the CervicalCheck programme.  Cervical screening plays an important role in reducing cancer rates, and incidence of cervical cancer have fallen by 7% annually since 2010.

“We need to see the terms of reference for independent inquiry established without delay so that the events of this scandal can be identified and measures can be taken to ensure that it never happens again”.