Statement from 221+ on the NSS Media Guide

Response from 221+ on the publication by the National Screening Service of ‘A guide to talking about cervical screening’

 

We find it hard to believe that we are still discussing this today, almost four and a half years after Vicky Phelan first brought her case to public attention. Sadly, we are not surprised.

The women and families impacted by the many missteps of CervicalCheck in the past want to move on more than anyone involved in this debacle, and in doing so we want to be able to express full confidence in screening as a vital part of the effort to eliminate cervical cancer in Ireland.

Unfortunately, we can’t while we and our members, on a daily basis, find ourselves coming up against a system that refuses to recognise the mistakes it has made. We may be tired, but we will not stop until that system acknowledges the shortcomings clearly outlined by Dr. Gabriel Scally and others and embraces its responsibility to make changes based on that experience that will positively impact the lives of all women in Ireland into the future.

We want to have confidence in the screening service but, no matter what changes are made, it’s not possible to trust a system that continues to deny the existence of something that we personally experienced, as it is doing again through this document.

The document is not something that exists in isolation. It is part of a sustained narrative from the NSS, ongoing in varied forms for almost two years, that seeks to deny and reimagine the Supreme Court ruling and the formal apology delivered to the women impacted by the failings of CervicalCheck by the Taoiseach on behalf of the State.

For us, it is impossible to understand the basis for this denial, despite all that has happened since 2018 – the work of Dr Scally, the decisions of the courts, two formal apologies in the Oireachtas and, most of all, the impacts on the lives of the women and families involved, including the loss of life.

In respect of this media guide specifically, through our original letter of 24 August, we had every intention of addressing our concerns directly to the NSS on a discrete and professional basis and have had no hand or part in bringing the letter to public attention at this time.

As it is now in the public domain however, we want to reaffirm the strength of our collective concern as a patient support group at this blatant attempt to paint over the past and deny the need to acknowledge and respect the experiences of women who are still looking for answers.

There needs to be a reset, which acknowledges the past, embraces fully the spirit of those apologies rather than trying to work around them and focuses on working from there as a starting point rather than trying to rewrite what has happened.

That is the foundation of truth from which one can build confidence. We would welcome the opportunity to work in that context. By contrast, it is not possible for the women of Ireland to have the screening service they deserve until this rewriting of the facts comes to an end.

 

221 Response to NSS Media Guide

 

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