Cruel Summer


Vicky Phelan outside Government Buildings this afternoon ahead of a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Last night.

Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan announced she’s taking a break from Twitter and campaigning on the CervicalCheck cancer screening scandal.

Vicky is meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon.

Earlier this week, Vicky told Miriam O’Callaghan, on RTÉ Radio One, that she planned to ask him to make good on his promise that women affected by the scandal wouldn’t have to be “dragged” through the courts.

Previously: Vicky Phelan on Broadsheet

Pic: Rollingnews

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34 thoughts on “Cruel Summer

  1. dav

    Probably an orchestrated campaign by the blushirts, their mistreatment of sick and dying women is well know.

        1. dav

          Oh sorry, It must have been some ff Taoseach who promised that the state would act on behalf of those women and would ensure that they wouldn’t be dragged through the courts… sorry about that mr blushirt!

          1. b

            “I sympathise with the position that he’s in… he’s in a checkmate,” she said. “The labs know they have him. It’s the labs who are abusing the statement… they couldn’t care less about Ruth [Morrissey] or me or our children or our families. They only care about saving money.”

            i know who’s opinions I’d put weight on versus your conspiracy theories, thanks

          2. dav

            Those defending the indefensible allied to a political party’s track record in failing and mistreating sick and dying women – I’ll stick to my feeling that both would attack said women on twitter, thanks..

          3. dav

            that’s a big generalisation there, Mr Rep. though, anyone who supports the government mistreatment of sick and dying women must be treated with the contempt that they deserve.

  2. dav

    Oh, I don’t normally do this, but is dead forever? Seems to have gone out with a whimper..

  3. Cian

    I have defended Cervical Check on many occasions over the last three months. When the story originally broke there were accusations that CC knew that hundreds of their older tests were false-negatives, they knew that women had cancer, and the women were still unaware of their cancer. There were calls (here on BS) for the people of CC to be charged with murder/attempted murder. I have tried to be rational when reading these stories – and to look at all sides.

    If it comes across that I am siding with Cervical Check and against these women then this is a failing on my ability to communicate clearly. My intention was to sided with CC against the mistruths in the media, against the mistruths of other posters.

    I think it is awful that Cervical Check has failed these women (and their families). Cancer is a terrible thing, and I feel really sad for the women that have to face it – I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I want to live in a country that has screening services that can be trusted.

    Cervical Check needs to regain peoples trust – but this means that we need to know the truth of what happened and why. We need to get beyond the soundbites.

    1. Braaap

      The difference between a screening program and a diagnostic program also need to be better communicated to the public.

    2. Anomanomanom

      It boils down to the government penny pinching again. Instead of paying Irish labs with well trained people using Irish screening standards, they fob it off to US labs who dont use the same standards but cost less money. Taking the human side out of it because we can all agree that what these women are going through is awful, surely the government needs to be held accountable for the sheer waste of money that keeps happening, by not using quality Irish or any foreign company that matter. They never check that job can actually be done to standard, its always just get the cheapest.

      1. Cian

        Can you provide any evidence for this? This is the kind of misinformation that I mentioned above. This blasé assumption that an organisation like Cervical Check would ignore that they are dealing with people’s health and farm out to the cheapest supplier and ignore standards.

        In any procurement you set out the minimum standard. If it’s paper (white, A4, 80mg, laser printable, ….) or smear tests. And you only look at the cost for the companies that can provide your standard.

        Anyway, the latest case was settled against both the US lab and an Irish one. So your “quality Irish” point is moot.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Cian, as far back as 2008 the red flags were being raised by medical people. Mary Harney said that Quest came in at less than a third of the cost of what was currently the cost at the time. Also she was aware of fraud cases against the US company. (Standards?)
          And funnily enough, Reilly in opposition was already asking questions about a senior HSE person who had done business with quest.
          Roll on the years and you have two boys in charge of Health and running the country that don’t know their responsibilities. Both of them trying to hide as much as possible.

        2. Anomanomanom

          CPL Laboratories said: “CPL is one of two US and two Irish laboratories that have provided pap smear testing for the Irish cervical screening programme since 2008.

          “These screens have been performed through manual examinations of individual slides, without the benefit of computer-based imaging and a separate HPV test, which together comprise the clinical standard in the US and many other countries for cervical cancer screening. This testing was performed to the highest quality standards in order to assure the best possible outcomes for the women participating.

          “Despite this, it is internationally recognised that no screening programme is 100pc effective and all have an inherent margin for error.”

          A spokeswoman for the HSE was unable to explain yesterday why CervicalCheck did not opt for the more advanced HPV testing at the time it was first outsourced and whether cost was a factor. The HPV tests were approved for the NHS in England after a successful trial in 2016.

          1. Anomanomanom

            I think its obvious money was a reason, otherwise a company would have used ALL available tech and highest standards

          2. Cian

            What is your point? These false-negatives are all from years ago – before the HPV test was available.

            Either way Cervical Check is in the process of rolling out the new HPV test (this was started before this story broke).

            Have the NHS started to use the HPV test? Have any countries started using it?
            According to one source “The UK, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia and the Netherlands have all recommended the implementation of HPV screening. The Taoiseach said Ireland will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out the test.”

        3. fFs

          Dr David Gibbons, chair of the Quality Assurance Committee of the National Cervical Screening Programme resigned after his concerns were dismissed, and he had gone to the top with them.
          They had the quality assurance committees. They were given professional scientific advice. They ignored it.
          All the reports and standards and statements are just paper-pushing and box-ticking to justify the penny-pinching.

          1. Cian

            This is definitely important – and it may turn out to be the actual scandal. This is what the investigation should be looking at.

            But at the moment we don’t know what happened – aside from his interview on the radio. Dr David Gibbons wasn’t an impartial advisor. We haven’t heard the other side of the story. We don’t know what the professional advice was, and whether they ignored it or not.

        4. Listrade

          Cian. That is how outsourcing works on paper, or at least how those in a procurement capacity would pitch their jobs. However, in reality outsourcing rarely works that way. And its not just winning contracts, the other issue is when it starts to become obvious that those awarded the contract cannot meet the scope.

          I can only go off my experience. Here’s how I’ve seen it work in the public sector.

          Decision to outsource. Consultants engaged to draw up specifications and standards. that is a small field. Of course your likes of KPMG offer this as well as many of the other biggies. What you tend to get is immediately the tender process is delayed by months (in one case I’m currently dealing with by 2 years) while the consultant perfects the “scope” and their patented scoring system. All at an additional cost to the client.

          Scope produced is generic, usually littered with UK references they’ve just cut and paste form their UK offices. Bidders query, generally get little response. Bidders really want to win the tender as not many come up from the public sector so to make sure they get the contract they engage a consultant. Hello Mr KPMG again. They assist on a bid they are running.

          Cost is always. Always. Always the deciding issue. You may well have put in a bid that perfectly meets the scope. You may have all accreditations, but someone has undercut you and usually by quite a lot. Sometimes you’re lucky and the bid team like you (especially if you have engaged the same consultancy) and they’ll tell you exactly how much to knock off the bid to make it preferable. The problem is you can’t really. To deliver the bid to that cost and taking into account actual hours of work, pay, materials, statutory compliance and everything that is genuinely the cost for delivering that contract at minimal margin. There is no way the other bidder can deliver it at that cost. But you fiddle the numbers and the hours and get the price down.

          Good news you’ve won. Problem is, when you look at the scope again when signing contracts it isn’t 100% accurate. No worries get that sorted with the legals. Two months in and the scope still isn’t sorted. The client is saying when they said X they meant Y so you have to do Y, oh and they reckon you need to shave a bit more off the price. Your KPIs are based on a spreadsheet the consultant got from someone else and you keep failing the KPIs. No worries, you get hit with penalties. I mean, you don’t actually get asked to improve that much, just keep paying the penalties and all is well. The Procurement team at the client look tough and can justify their existence.

          But that’s only half the story. How did Carrilion keep winning contracts even though it was a well know “secret” that they couldn’t deliver? Ask the consultants who led the bids. Ask what their relationship is to those bidding. Who ran the bid for Cervical Check? How much involvement did any health care profession have in that bid? I don’t know, do you? When the bid was put together, was the “standards” for laboratories a simple show your accreditation? Maybe a site visit? Again, who would have looked at that. I would be pretty confident that the ticking box side of the tender process (please show accreditation, yada yada) was just that. The certs were sent, filed away and a box ticked.

          Your idea of the procurement process does not exist in my experience. It involves a clear and specific scope (never seen one). It involves people knowing the scope and understanding operations heavily involved in the tender process (insert consultancy). It involves professional, competent people analysing submissions (nope, nope, nope).

          Neither of us can prove it either way, but based on 100% of outsourcing bids I’ve experienced, odds are this was a bid for outsourcing that itself was outsourced via a consultancy and that many of the expected standards were never thoroughly checked. That few if any technically competent people were involved in the process, beyond maybe a quickj review of a submission. That existing relationships (usually via the consultant) led to a preferred bidder and that ultimately, cost won even if the actual likelihood being able to deliver the service at that price wasn’t practicable.

        1. millie st murderlark

          There are still cases in the HepC scandal ongoing as well, it should be noted.

  4. Rep

    Who attacks these women for the failings of the CC? Would they prefer that the cover up was still going on and that people were still not being told? The internet is a weird place.

  5. Huey Luas on the News

    FG Bots at work again, defending the indefensible. Surprised they don’t blame Sinn Fein. Good luck to the woman. Remember this when it comes to voting.

  6. Dr.Fart MD

    and to think, with everything that has happened with this .. THEY. STILL. SEND. TESTS. TO. TEXAS. .. the sheer laziness, just hoping it’ll blow past, then the next time it happens, sure they’ll be long out of government. insanely selfish

    1. Cian

      What is your suggestion?
      Where should they send the tests? Do you know of a lab that has the capacity to take these tests? that has been certified to do the tests? that meets sufficiently high standard? and that would be willing to take our tests?

      And if you find this lab, do you have any idea how long it takes to agree contracts and SLAs? How long it takes to integrate IT systems (I’m assuming that there is some IT link back and forth).

      Finally, perhaps Cervical Check is going through this process and will move to a new lab as soon as they can?

      1. Dr.Fart MD

        “what would you do so?” is as childish as argument as I’d expect out of literally the worst person to ever comment on Broadsheet. It’s not my job, but i can tell you, if I did my job as badly as everyone involved in the CC tragedy I wouldn’t have any work. .. “what is your suggestion” .. such a childish response. I’ve seen Trump supporters use “then why don’t you run for office if you know it all?” as a go-to retort, and that’s the level you’re operating off

          1. Dr.Fart MD

            I am a doctor and my surname is Fart. It originated in Canada early 1900s, it’s very unfortunate but I’m not here to explain my geneology to you.

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