‘A Momentous Step’ [Updated]


This afternoon.

“Ceann Comhairle,

“As Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, I apologise to the women and their loved ones who suffered from a litany of failures in how cervical screening in our country operated over many years.

“I do so having met and listened to many of those affected and I do so guided by the Scally Inquiry report.

“Today we say sorry to those whose lives were shattered, those whose lives were destroyed, and those whose lives could have been different.

“We know that cervical screening programmes cannot detect all cancers, however we acknowledge the many failures that have taken place.

“We are sorry for:

failures of clinical governance
failures of leadership and management
failure to tell the whole truth and do so in a timely manner
the humiliation, disrespect and deceit
the false reassurance
the attempts to play down the seriousness of this debacle

“We apologise to those who survived and still bear the scars, both physically and mentally. As do their families.

“We apologise to those who are here in our presence. To those watching from home who have kept it to themselves. We apologise to those passed on and who cannot be here.

“We acknowledge the failure that took place with CervicalCheck.

“Today’s apology is too late for some who were affected. For others it will never be enough.

“Today’s apology is offered to all the people the State let down. And to the families who paid the price for those failings.

“A broken service, broken promises, broken lives –a debacle that left a country heartbroken. A system that was doomed to fail.

“We apologise: to our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers.

“To the men who lost the centre of their lives and who every day have to try and pick up the pieces.The single fathers and grandparents.

“To the children who will always have a gaping hole in their lives.

“To all those grieving for what has been taken from them.The happy days that will never be.

“A State apology may not provide closure, but I hope it will help to heal.

“I have met with some of you and your families and I have heard your stories, told to me with dignity, courage and integrity. Families turned upside down.

“The grief of losing loved ones.

“The guilt of those who survived, thinking they were the ‘lucky ones’. Those who have lost their jobs and careers, their ability to have children, their feeling of self-worth. Who feel mutilated inside, who feel they have robbed their partner out of the possibility of having a child. A future stolen from them.

“A State apology will not repair all that has been broken, nor restore all that has been lost, but we can make it count for something.

“Thanks to Dr Scally’s three reports into CervicalCheck we have discovered a lot of truths.

“We now know a lot of facts.

“Some things we will never know.

“But what we do know we can act on and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“The Government accepted all of the recommendations that were set out in Dr. Scally’s reports and all will be implemented.

“Now, in the words of Vicky Phelan, I want something good to come out of all of this.

“Speaking as a doctor, as well as a politician, a brother and a son, I know the lessons we must learn.

“We need a better culture in our health service, one that treats patients with respect and always tells the truth. One that is never paternalistic – doctor doesn’t always know best. We must always share full information with our patients, admit mistakes, and put the person first. There is no information about a patient that the patient should not know. No patient should ever feel stonewalled by the system. We should never act or fail to act out of fear of litigation or recrimination.

“The involvement of patient advocates like Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh and others has shaped and enhanced our response.

“We have revised the Open Disclosure policy so that in future patients will have full knowledge about their care and treatment.They will be informed when things go wrong, met to discuss what happened, and receive a sincere apology if an error was made while caring for them. Above all, patients will be treated with compassion and empathy.

“The new Patient Safety Bill will provide for the mandatory reporting of serious reportable events and will establish a statutory duty of candour.

“Soon, we will establish a new Independent Patient Safety Council. The first task of the Council will be to undertake a detailed review of the existing policies on Open Disclosure across the whole healthcare landscape.

“As a State we aim to make cervical cancer a very rare disease in Ireland. It is almost impossible to eradicate a disease but we can get very close.

“So, we are switching to primary HPV screening, and Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to adopt this new more accurate screening test.

“We are also extending the ever developing HPV vaccine to boys.

“We are educating and informing parents about the benefits of the vaccine.

“We are investing in better facilities in Ireland like a national cervical screening laboratory, in conjunction with the Coombe. This enhanced facility will take some time to develop but will provide a better balance between public and private provision of laboratory services to the cervical screening programme, always putting quality ahead of cost. It will bring more testing back to Ireland.

“We need to restore confidence in screening.

“We also need to listen to those who have suffered and learn from their stories so we can find justice.

“In July we established the CervicalCheck Tribunal, a statutory tribunal to deal with the issue of liability in CervicalCheck cases. It won’t be perfect but it will be quicker, with a dedicated judge and independent experts, less adversarial than court.

“Women will still have the right to go to court.

“We established an ex-gratia compensation scheme for those affected by the non-disclosure of the Cervical Check audit to provide financial compensation without the need to go to court.

“However this was never about money. This was about accountability, discovering what happened and why, providing justice and finding peace. It was about making a meaningful acknowledgement of what happened, and give an assurance that this won’t happen again to anyone else.

“We have seen further errors in some of the laboratories since the publication of the Scally Report, causing confusion and anxiety, so we have more to do to restore confidence. We are determined to do so.

“Ceann Comhairle,

“What happened to so many women and families should not have happened. While every case was not negligence, every case was a lost opportunity for an earlier diagnosis and treatment.

“It was a failure of our health service, State, its agencies, systems and culture.

“We’ve found out the truth and the facts.

“We’re making changes to put things right.

“We need to restore trust and repair relationships.

“On behalf of the Government and the State, I am sorry it happened. And I apologise to all those hurt or wronged. We vow to make sure it never happens again.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (top) apologises for the “’humiliation, the disrespect and deceit” shown to those affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

Taoiseach apologises for ‘disrespect and deceit’ over CervicalCheck failures (RTÉ)


Vicky Phelan

RTÉ reports:

The State is expected to offer a formal apology today for failures in the CervicalCheck service to women and families affected.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to address the issue in the Dáil this afternoon.

More than 1,000 women and families have been affected by the CervicalCheck crisis.

The failures first came to light in April last year, with the settlement in the Vicky Phelan High Court case.

…The author of two reports into the CervicalCheck controversy [Dr Gabriel Scally] said the issuing of a formal State apology is “a momentous step and quite unprecedented.”

Taoiseach to deliver State apology for CervicalCheck failures (RTÉ)

27 thoughts on “‘A Momentous Step’ [Updated]

  1. Panty Christ

    Let’s hope the state claims agency drops all its resistance to liability too now that the state has conceded and accepted responsibility

    1. Cian

      The state claims agency hasn’t contested any of these cases. They have admitted liability, and paid €20K, (if my memory serves) without fighting, for the distress caused by the HSE not informing the women that earlier results were incorrect.

      Separately, some women are suing the relevant companies for mis-reading their smear tests. These companies are denying liability and forcing the women to court.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Out of the traps quick there Cian.
        And the failures – who (not what) should they be apportioned to? Right up to Present and former Health Ministers?

        failures of clinical governance
        failures of leadership and management
        failure to tell the whole truth and do so in a timely manner
        the humiliation, disrespect and deceit
        the false reassurance
        the attempts to play down the seriousness of this debacle

  2. Dr.Fart

    why is an apology considered a big deal? is it because vardkar is such a proud egotistical narcissist that this is probably the first time hes said sorry in his life? if i was dying because of government negligence, and they rolled out vardkar to an army of press and made a big deal about him sayin sorry, i wouldnt really feel like it was about me. id feel it was more a photo op thingy for fine gael, and something they’re probably only doing to distract from their littany of controversary that never ends. if i was Vicky or any of them, id tell they i really dont care, send the apology in a letter, include a big cheque if ya really mean it. otherwise, dont care.

    1. V

      Oh knock it off

      Would ye be happier if these women had to wait as long as Joanne Hayes had to for a formal apology?

      Seriously lads, don’t get me started,
      ye don’t have balls
      ye really don’t

      1. Dr.Fart

        what the fupp are you talkin about, V? we’re sayin an apology off vardkar doesnt mean a thing. maybe read the comments again, without a pre-built in filter of what you think im probably saying. read it and understand it before flyin off the handle

        1. Dr.Fart

          like do you really think someone dying from cancer actually gives a fupp if varadkar says sorry? it means nothing, especially from him

      2. GiggidyGoo

        V. The members of government involved in the Joanne Hayes cover up and miscarriage of justice are long gone out of office, and can rest easy that someone else apologized for what happened that length ago.
        The people in government NOW have stood over this until they were told in a report that an apology would be in order. On top of that, they couldn’t formulate an apology themselves and had to run the text by the victims. Did they not know what to apologize for, who to apologize to, and how to give it?
        The difference now, too, is that they have apologized for the actions of people who are STILL in the States employment or are involved in the medical industry (for want of a better word).
        So, now, in real time, there are people guilty (as per Varadkars speech) still working for the State, and not being held to account.
        The only ones without balls are Varadkar, Harris and Co.

        1. V

          And fully agree

          The apology doesn’t deserve to be sneered at

          It’s by no means the end of the matter
          But it’s something that indicates change

          And for that I’m glad to hear and see it

      3. BobbyJ

        You don’t think this is about optics? The Government could and should do much more than apologise, heads should have rolled for this

  3. Cian

    @Fart: why is an apology a big deal?

    From breaking news:

    “Dr Gabriel Scally, the public health doctor who investigated the CervicalCheck controversy said it was fitting that the State now apologises to the women.

    He said women and their families affected by the scandal wanted three things: to be told what went wrong and why, an apology and steps are being taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    He said the final piece was being addressed today when the State formally apologies to the women.”

    1. Dr.Fart

      id find it extra insulting that they took this long to say sorry. it would mean nothing to me if i was one of those poor victims. varadkars words are hollow and meaningless

    2. GiggidyGoo

      So Varadkar and Co. wouldn’t have apologized without having been shamed in to it.
      There needs to be a next step. The people (Person, not the institution) now need to be brought to account, in public and sued. Would that be asking too much? After all, responsibility is responsibility.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          The ones that have contributed to the admitted

          failures of clinical governance
          failures of leadership and management
          failure to tell the whole truth and do so in a timely manner
          the humiliation, disrespect and deceit
          the false reassurance
          the attempts to play down the seriousness of this debacle

          Seeing as your blueshirts have admitted all of the above have happened, they can identify the culprits. Or is that not within blueshirts capability?

  4. Jeffrey

    Bla bla bla…. right. How about the money? that gonna take as long as for the Magdeleine sisters scandal? Years!

  5. Daisy Chainsaw

    Yet another state apology for destroying women’s lives.

    We hope it’ll never happen again, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  6. jamesjoist

    ahh , Miriam Lord , ‘ the war of the buttons put aside’ , was there ever a wittier or more more cynical Dail correspondent?

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