Landmark day for Stephen Teap and families impacted by CervivalCheck failings

Alan Kelly TD
08 December 2022

Speaking following the admission of a breach of duty by two laboratories for screening CervicalCheck smear tests today, Labour’s Alan Kelly said clinicians can no longer claim ‘limitations of screening’ absolutely as an argument for a failure to read smear tests correctly.

Deputy Kelly was present in the court today alongside Stephen Teap, whose late wife Irene had her slides misread in 2010 and again in 2013.

Deputy Kelly said:

“This is the first time that labs have admitted full liability for a failure to read slides correctly. This is hugely significant and now means that some clinicians can no longer use the ‘limitations of screening’ as an absolute argument for when things go wrong.

“The reality is that the origins of this scandal was the fact the laboratories were put up for auction by the Government of the day. It was a huge mistake. We need to bring these laboratories back home. It is not acceptable to have back-up laboratories outside the State.

“As we seek to open a national cervical screening laboratory, I am acutely aware of the shortage of expert lab workers due to poor pay and conditions and the history of outsourcing testing in Ireland. There are more vacancies in laboratories than there are graduates to fill them and this has been the case for some time. It doesn’t take a lot to realise that there will be a breaking point.

“As Stephen said today, the key thing is that government ensure our screening service is brought back home, and that the Patient Safety Bill is made fit for purpose. Stephen, Vicky Phelan, and the other women and families impacted by failures at CervicalCheck don’t want tributes or lipservice from the government. They want action, and particularly the delivery of this key piece of legislation.

“The Bill as it is currently constituted is not fit for purpose. It is bad legislation. For 12 of the 13 conditions in relation to open disclosure the person would have to have passed away. That is not good enough. We absolutely need to get this right early next year.”

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