Health Minister Simon Harris; Lorraine Walsh, Stephen Teap and Vicky Phelan surrounded by some of the 221 cervical cancer patients affected by the CervicalCheck scandal outside Leinster House yesterday
Earlier this morning.
Morning Ireland‘s Audrey Carville asked Health Minister Simon Harris about the apology Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivered in the Dáil yesterday to those affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.
Mr Varadkar had apologised for the “humiliation, the disrespect and deceit” caused to those affected.
Ms Carville also asked him about the forthcoming Patient Safety Bill.
From their discussion.
Audrey Carville: “What was deceitful about what took place?”
Simon Harris: “Quite frankly, I think the concealment of information from women. Deceit refers to having information and not telling people.”
Carville: “And do you believe that was deliberate?”
Harris: “You know what I’m actually not sure it was deliberate. It sounds to me more like a situation whereby they intended to disclose and then, as we all know, Dr Scally reports there was a complete and utter litany of failures in terms of closing that loop.
“But regardless of the deliberate nature or not, it was extremely hurtful and extremely painful…”
Carville: “But that’s what deceit is, isn’t it? It’s intent.”
Harris: “I think it often does involve intent. But, certainly, what the Taoiseach’s words yesterday were, were a reflection of how the women and their families felt. And they certainly felt deceived and I can fully understand why they did.”
Carville: “What do you believe was the most scandalous element of what took place?”
Harris: “I genuinely think the non-disclosure. I mean audit is a good thing, we should be auditing and checking and making our systems better and making our screening service better but the idea that you would set up an audit that intended to disclose and then not disclose, and then add insult to injury, and I don’t wish to open, you know, old wounds here. I know it’s been a very, very painful time for so many people.
“But people have been really, really hurt and certainly in my own statement yesterday to the Dáil, I made the point that, you know, partial information, having to be drip-fed into the public domain because all of the facts weren’t there added insult to injury and worried people well beyond the 221+ group. Women were looking to me and others for reassurance that quite frankly we weren’t in a position to give them. And so, for that, I’m very sorry.”
Carville: “So it all centred on the women not being told and as part of his speech to the Dáil yesterday, Leo Varadkar said there is no information about a patient that a patient shouldn’t know. And yet, in the Patient Safety Bill, for which we were told full, mandatory disclosure was going to be part of, you talked about it, almost as soon as the Vicky Phelan case was complete 18 months ago. There are going to be exceptions to that?”
Harris: “Well, I’m going to work with the Oireachtas to identify what those are. I mean there’s a very big difference, as I think everybody listening will appreciate, between mandatory disclosure of a serious reportable incident and between the day-to-day issues that can arise at a hospital.
“Like between maybe, you know, the food not being adequate and the like. That’s a very different situation to the very serious issues.”
Carville: “But is the option of not telling a patient about a mishap or an error – will there be that option in the Patient Safety Bill?”
Harris: “Absolutely not and I thank you for asking me the question because it’s important to give that assurance. I mean serious reportable events will refer to anytime, anything went wrong in relation to your care. Anytime there is information known about your well being that obviously has to be shared with you so we will bring, I will bring the full Patient Safety Bill to Cabinet next month…”
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