'A system that was doomed to fail' Leo Varadkar apologises to women affected by CervicalCheck scandal 3 weeks ago

'A system that was doomed to fail' Leo Varadkar apologises to women affected by CervicalCheck scandal

"Many failures have taken place."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has issued an apology on behalf of the State for the women and families affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

Addressing the Dáil today, he apologised for the failings of the Irish healthcare system and for the information that was kept from patients.

"I apologise to the women and their loved ones who suffered from this litany of failures," he began.

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

"Many failures have taken place (...) We are sorry for the failure to tell the whole truth and to do so in a timely manner."

The CervicalCheck scandal saw over 220 patients issued false negative results and thousands more have their results considerably delayed.

A number of women have passed away since receiving their false negative results.

Varadkar offered his apology to those who were in the Dáil today, those at home, and "to those who have passed on and who cannot be here."

"We apologise to those who survived and still bear the scars, physically and mentally," he said.

"Today's apology is offered to all the people who the State let down (...) a debacle that left a country heartbroken, by a system that was doomed to fail.

"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."

Varadkar said that all the recommendations made in the Scally Report will be implemented.

He added that the State wanted to build a "better culture" within the health system where full disclosure would be given to patients.

"There is no information about a patient that a patient should not know," he said. "Patients will be treated with compassion and empathy."

He said that although it will be difficult to eradicate cervical cancer entirely, the State want to make it a "rare disease" through the implementation of a new screening service that will "bring more testing back to Ireland."

"We have much more still to do to restore confidence," he said. "What happened to so many women and their families should not have happened."

"It was a failure of our health service (...) We need now to restore trust and rebuild relationships that have been severely damaged.

"I apologise to all those hurt or wronged. We vow now to make sure this never happens to anyone again."

Campaigners Vicky Phelan, Stephen Teap, and Lorraine Walsh were among those listening to the Taoiseach's address inside the Dáil chamber today.

They had discussed the basis of such an apology in a meeting with Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris earlier this year.

An independent review into CervicalCheck's faults had previously urged that the service adopt a 'Women First' approach. 

The Rapid Review report, carried out by Professor Brian McCraith, found that the HSE underestimated the scale of the CervicalCheck controversy and there is "an absence of clear lines of authority and clarity of role responsibilities within CC."

The report also found that CervicalCheck relied almost solely on an outsourced laboratory, and engagement between patient representatives and the HSE has overall been "not good."