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On Tuesday’s Prime Time Lorraine Walsh raised a number of serious concerns regarding the RCOG independent review of women’s smear histories, which led her to resign from the CervicalCheck Steering Committee a number of weeks ago. In light of these concerns 221+ is calling for independent individual reviews to be made available to all of the women who participated in the RCOG process, so that they can achieve the certainty that they need and deserve.


221+ calls for independent individual reviews in light of concerns over RCOG Review process.

There have been several questions raised since the publication on Tuesday of the aggregate report of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) of its review of the smear histories of cancer sufferers caught up in the CervicalCheck debacle.

These were first aired on RTE’s Primetime on Tuesday evening by our Patient Advocate Lorraine Walsh who has once again led from the front with an unflinching commitment to represent the interests of women failed by our health system and by those who manage and govern it.

The purpose of the RCOG Review was to provide an analysis and evidence on the individual histories of women who had been through the CervicalCheck screening system and who had developed cervical cancer[1]. Any judgement as to its effectiveness must be measured against the confidence of those women in how the Review was done and in the information they receive.

Lorraine’s experience of the RCOG Review did not give that confidence. She raised issues in private some weeks ago and was then put in an impossible position by the way RCOG reported on her case. Her decision to stand down from the CervicalCheck Steering Committee was completely justified and we fully support her.

Lorraine is not alone. Since Tuesday other women have come forward with concerns about their experiences of RCOG. Every such report has to be followed up and we would encourage any woman or family that has a concern to please get in touch with 221+ where we will assist in any enquiry or follow up that is required – full contact details are available on our website –

We note also that the RCOG Review team will appear before the Oireachtas Committee for Health on December 18. This is a powerful forum to enquire into both the Review process and whether it has delivered on the primary objective of providing reassurance to the women and families involved.

Ultimately in light of the concerns that individual women clearly have about their experiences of the RCOG Review,  the only sure way to provide peace of mind is that each woman is given the option now of an individual independent review of their smear screening, cytological and clinical history. To that end we welcome the Taoiseach’s statement in the Dáil yesterday that Government will “certainly give consideration to funding independent reports for women who wish to have them”[2].

We believe that this too will help ensure that lingering concerns about past failures in CervicalCheck do not undermine future confidence in the renewed screening service.

Success for screening is built on the confidence that women have in the screening service.  Confidence is dependent on the experience and stories of individual women. Right now, in our experience, the RCOG Review does not contribute to building that confidence

Having come a long way in a short time to recognise and document the shortcomings in the cervical screening system and to learn important lessons, through the work of Dr Gabriel Scally and others. It is incumbent now on Government to support this final step for the individual women that still have unanswered questions. All of these women are victims of the failures in CervicalCheck as a screening system. Their confidence as individuals in how the system responds to their need is now a cornerstone for the confidence of future generations in screening in Ireland.



Pdf of 221+ Statement calling for Independent Individual Reviews for all RCOG Participants