Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed that the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy will be compensated through a redress scheme. It is estimated that the cost of doing this could be in excess of €500m.
This announcement comes as new reports indicate that the original estimate that the number of misdiagnosis cases is actually as high as 3,000 and not the 1,500 it was originally believed to be. Should this be the case then it is extremely likely that the number of people given the incorrect results may be much higher that the 208, of whom 17 are now dead, first reported when the scandal became public.
Speaking during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil this week Mr Varadkar said: “We will need a scheme of redress for women whose cancer was missed and should have been detected beyond normal error and for women where there was a breach of duty to inform them of the audit results”.
He added: “Once again, I want to say how deeply concerned and upset I and the whole Government are at the situation with which we are now grappling.”
The Taoiseach also revealed that women who wants a repeat smear or review of their test, the State will meet that cost, as well as the GP appointment fee.
The smear controversy arose following the by the case taken by Vicky Phelan, a terminally ill mother. Mrs Phelan was advised, following a smear test in 2011 that she showed no signs of cervical cancer. However, an audit carried out in 2014 showed that the original results of the smear test were actually incorrect. Despite this she was not advised that she had cervical cancer until 2017 and in January 2018 she was told that her illness was now terminal – she has 6-12 months to live.
Ms Phelan, a 43-year-old mother of two from Co Limerick, was awarded €2.5m in the High Court. She now plans to travel to the US in the hope of being accepted onto a new trial treatment for cervical cancer.