Cervical Check“I didn’t want to go on national television and tell the women of Ireland that I’ve no confidence in this report, but I couldn’t stand behind it either and tell them I have faith in it.”

As heard on The Ray D'Arcy Show

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Cervical cancer survivor and patient advocate Lorraine Walsh spoke with Ray D’Arcy on Wednesday afternoon via the RTÉ Galway studio. On the day before, Lorraine announced her resignation as one of the patient representatives on the Cervical Check Steering committee. She told Ray how she was feeling 24 hours later:

“I’m heartbroken, Ray. To be quite honest with you, I didn’t want to go on national television and tell the women of Ireland that I’ve no confidence in this report, but I couldn’t stand behind it either and tell them I have faith in it.”

The report Lorraine was referring to is a review of the Cervical Check screening history of 1,038 women who had cervical cancer. It was carried out by members of the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and was released on the 3rd of December. Lorraine told Ray she did feel some small sense of relief along with the heartbreak:

“I feel a little bit relieved today, in that it’s off my chest. And I’ve got great support from so many women involved in this, so many lovely messages today.”

Lorraine told Ray today that one of the things she was most keen to see in the RCOG review of the women’s cases, was that whatever was found, the women themselves would get the information in an appropriate way:

“My biggest concern was, you know, I wanted to make sure that the women were communicated to properly, that they were given options in how they wanted to receive that information.”

Lorraine explained to Ray that apparent inaccuracies surfaced once some of the women’s reports were sent by RCOG to the HSE. The HSE had a validation process in place before the final individual reports could be sent to the women concerned, and so the reports which failed the HSE validation were sent back, causing delays:

“In some cases there were explanations for them, but then in other cases there weren’t explanations. So the reports were continually being returned to RCOG to get them changed, which resulted in the whole disclosure process being delayed.”

There were concerns about mis-labelling of slides and slides that were deemed as “missing” once the final reports emerged. One of those affected was Lorraine’s own personal report and ultimately she ended up with two reports. Lorraine told Ray when she got a call to say the second report could be sent to her in Galway, she’d had enough:

“I said, do you know what, I’m actually full up on RCOG for today. I can’t take any more in for today.”

Lorraine took the opportunity while speaking to Ray today to say hello to her good friend and fellow Cervical Check campaigner Vicky Phelan, who she said was listening in from St Vincent’s Hospital:

“We forget sometimes that Vicky is fighting a battle, and we’re behind you 100% Vicky.”

Lorraine Walsh detailed a number of other issues which led to her loss of confidence in the RCOG process and these are included in the full interview which you can access here.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2019

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