Vicky Phelan 'disheartened' by latest figures on women affected by smear test scandal

A 'potentially considerable number of cases' where women developed cancer were not subjected to an audit

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

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darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

WATCH: Terminally-ill Limerick woman agrees €2.5m settlement over cancer misdiagnoses

Vicky Phelan is originally from Mooncoin

Kilkenny native Vicky Phelan - whose High Court case led to a national CervicalCheck scandal - has said she is "disappointed and disheartened" that more women will be dragged into the controversy.

It's been revealed tonight that up to 1,500 women could have been affected by the smear test scandal.

Health Minister Simon Harris revealed that that a “potentially considerable number of cases” where women developed cancer were not subjected to an audit.

The HSE confirmed earlier this week that 17 women had died out of a total 208 not told they may have had a delayed diagnosis and may have benefited from earlier treatment.

That figure of 208 women affected now appears to be significantly higher.

Vicky was given incorrect test results and is now terminally-ill with cervical cancer and she settled her High Court action against a US laboratory for €2.5m last week.

Vicky, 43, who lives in Annacotty, Limerick, and is originally from Mooncoin was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as being clear of any abnormalities.

By the time she had another smear test in 2014 she had cervical cancer.

Speaking on RTÉ's Primetime tonight about the latest revelations around the number of women affected, she said: "I'm not surprised to learn that. The numbers have been changing on a daily basis at this stage.

"I'm disappointed and disheartened to know that there'll be more women involved but not surprised."

She added: "This is a massive patient safety issue."

When asked about her decision not to sign a confidentiality clause as part of her settlement, she said: "I was never going to sign a confidentiality clause and that was before I ever knew there were other women involved...In the back of my mind I probably thought there were other women involved but I never knew on this magnitude."

Vicky got a call from the Taoiseach's office this evening asking if she'd like to meet with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and she said she would in principle but at the moment she is trying to concentrate on her health and she said would get back to the Taoiseach's press adviser.

She added that cervical screening is absolutely essential for women in Ireland and encouraged people to continue going for smears.

"If women are worried in any way at all take up the Minister on his offer of a free smear," she said.