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Scally Report: Irish Cancer Society calls for 'mandatory open disclosure' in the health service

Latest: The Irish Cancer Society has said that Dr Scally "puts the women affected, at the heart of his report" into the CervicalCheck scandal.

Donal Buggy, Head of Advocacy & Services at the Irish Cancer Society, has said the report highlights the need for "mandatory open disclosure" within the health service.

Mr Buggy said: “It has been five months since Vicky Phelan courageously told her story, and during that time we have heard harrowing accounts from the women affected and their families.

[quote]“Dr Scally puts the women affected and their families, at the heart of his report, and this compassion and understanding was crucially missing during the screening services audit process."[/quote]

"We are very disappointed to see the full scale of serious communication errors that took place in the non-disclosure of the audit results, but more shocking is the nature and tone of the language outlined in the report during the follow-up disclosure meetings.

“This report highlights the need for a radical cultural change in the health service to mandatory open disclosure, and raises important questions about the lack of compassion shown to these women.”

The society is urging all eligible women to continue to attend for their cervical smears, and emphasises that Dr Scally has not found any quality issues with the current laboratories.

Mr Buggy said: “CervicalCheck is 10 years old this month, and in its first eight years has detected more than 50,000 high-grade pre-cancerous changes in women. While understandably people’s confidence in screening has been shaken, we want to provide reassurance today, for the women attending screening next week or next month, that cervical screening is safe and does save lives.”

Donal Buggy

“Ultimately, with the combination of HPV testing, which will be introduced in the near future, and the HPV vaccination, Ireland has the opportunity to almost eradicate cervical cancer in a generation.”

The Society said it will work to ensure that the recommendations of the report are fully implemented and that within three months an independent review of implementation plans is produced.

[h2]Earlier: Labour calls for Dr Scally to lead 'short-term inquiry with powers to compel witnesses' into CervicalCheck scandal[/h2]

Labour Party Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly, has called for the recommendations of the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme to be implemented urgently and has called for an external investigative review.

Deputy Kelly said: “I accept the recommendations of Dr Scally’s Scoping Inquiry fully and I think it is an absolute priority that they are implemented straight away.

“The recommendations by Dr Scally will help reinforce confidence in the screening programme. Dr Scally should be retained to ensure that these recommendations are implemented.

“I note that Dr Scally states in his report that the HSE will carry out an internal investigation into the CervicalCheck scandal.

[quote]"The question must be asked should the HSE be investigating themselves."[/quote]

"I don’t believe the HSE should carry out this investigation internally but it should be done externally through an investigative process working with Dr Scally.

“I am firmly of the view that a short-term inquiry with powers to compel witnesses is still needed. An investigation team potentially lead by Dr Scally should be established that has tight terms of reference to find out when, where, how and why the failures Dr Scally has identified in the audit process took place.

“We have seen this system failing so many women and it is imperative that there is accountability.

“Such an investigation should not in any way impact the timelines for implementing the recommendations by Dr Scally."

[h2]Earlier: Martin: There should be laws for open disclosure in medical profession following Scally Report[/h2]

Fianna Fáil have said they will be guided by women and families on whether there should be a larger investigation into the cervical cancer controversy.

Speaking in Malahide, Dublin, party leader Micheál Martin also said that there should now be laws for open disclosure in the medical profession.

The Scally report, released today, found there were "serious gaps" in the screening services.

It was highly critical about the way women were informed about how their smear tests were misread.

"The problems uncovered are redolent of a whole systems failure," it said.

Mr Martin earlier said that Fianna Fáil would be guided by women and their families on whether or not there should be a full commission of investigation into the cervical cancer controversy.

[quote]We will talk to the families and the victims. We would like to get the reaction of families and victims themselves and we will be very much guided and what they require and their observations in relation to further observations and inquiries.[/quote]

He added: “We will also be guided by the overall importance of the cervical screening programme itself and the degree to which it does work in protecting many women in this country in preventing the onset of cancer."

Speaking to RTÉ earlier, Mr Martin also said his party would now back an open disclosure policy in the health system.

“Open disclosure should be an essential part of health policy and medical treatment of patients.

"Everybody was taken back at the lack of disclosure in this case, the ambiguity around the Cervical Check's policy in telling the women and families concerned that there was serious misreadings and misdiagnosis of their cancers."