Cervical smear scandal is what happens when the ‘system’ puts cost over quality



Well folks, you know it’s a slow news week when stories like Trump’s mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ intention to vacate her role as White House Press Secretary and the great Irish ‘motor-insurance rip-off’ revelation generates surprise, speculation and debate among social commentators. I mean, you don’t need to be Mystic Meg to know the writing was on the wall for the woman who appeared to try and condition the public into thinking that journos are the enemy of the people. You also don’t need to be Einstein to know that, when it comes to motor insurance fees, this country’s practice and approach is a complete joke. It has long been documented that drivers, including me, are being hit with such preposterous premiums, it stood to reason the industry’s profits would sky-rocket from €16 million in 2016 to €227 million in 2017! So, no bombshell revelations there.

  However, what did shock me to the core was Dr. Gabriel Scally’s latest disturbing findings relating to the ongoing CervicalCheck controversy. You see, when Dr. Scally was initially brought on board to carry out a scoping inquiry into what went wrong with the health screening programme, he was told there were six laboratories involved in reading the slides. However, due to the Doc and his team’s excellent investigative skills, it has now transpired that a staggering sixteen laboratories were involved in the overall process. Now, worrying though this is, what’s actually more alarming is the fact that the HSE, the National Cancer Screening Programme and CervicalCheck allege they had absolutely no clue that this was going on! Really? How very odd! Now, while Dr. Scally did reassure us that he and his team “have not come across anything that would indicate to us that there are quality failures in any systematic way,” in relation to these previously undiscovered labs, as far as I’m concerned, that’s got to be cold comfort to the women unfortunate enough to be affected by this travesty.

  Look, as this stage, I want to urge readers to keep a focus on the fact that health screening programmes, while they’re not diagnostic, are both vital and lifesaving. Nonetheless, they’re only effective if a proper set of protocols are put in place. And I’m afraid,  it’s clear, given these disturbing findings, when it comes to women’s health in this country, in this particular instance those protocols were not in place, and not only was due diligence ignored, but safeguards appear to have also been totally disregarded. I mean, you only need to look at the fact that one lab, which allegedly tested over ninety thousand slides, was only accredited retrospectively. As it stands, I have very little confidence in a regime that enters a ‘shock-horror-please-pity-us. Sure-we-were-clueless. Those-deceitful-labs-never-disclosed-that-part-of-their-practice-was-to-outsource-work’ as some pathetic line of defence. The HSE bigwigs need to stop gambling with women’s health, and, instead of anchoring their decisions on cost, they should start focusing on quality.

  It stands to reason folks, if our so-called health service is tendering out work to organisations, the result of which can be a case of life or death, the absolute least they could do is know that this organisation’s personnel are up to scratch, can actually carry out the specific work they’re paying them for, that they know who these people are, and vitally, they know where they are. The women of Ireland have an absolute right to know three things…where our cervical smear slides are being sent, if the information we are being provided with is accurate, and that those tasked with providing that information can stand confidently over it.

Family homelessness is a plague that has spread nationwide

Well folks, it appears that family homelessness has hit an unprecedented high. And no, this is not just a big city epidemic; this is a plague so highly virulent, it has spread nationwide. This tells me that we are now witnessing a situation whereby our government is  tolerating a structure that sees families, (like yours and mine), being forced into leaving long-term rental accommodation because their private landlord has either moved on or changed his/her mind with regard to their property, etc.

  Now that’s not just my opinion. These are the findings of Focus Ireland, whose Director of Advocacy Mike Allen, while speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland last week, revealed ‘the homelessness crisis is taking place in the private rented sector’.

  So, one minute you’re renting a beautiful house; one where you’ve lovingly decorated, and where you felt happy and secure enough to call it your home. Indeed, a haven where you’ve integrated yourself and your family into the friendly local community, where you’ve enrolled the kids in schools and established yourself in a job. Then suddenly, out of the blue, you get the call telling you to leave, rendering you terrified you’ll end up living on the side of the road.

   Now this is no fairy story folks, rather it is – tragically – the case for many hundreds of families whom, through no fault of their own, and whom, despite having a decent income, are unable, for various reasons, to get a mortgage. However, these families are able to afford to pay rent. Indeed, they not only religiously pay that rent on time; they lovingly take care of the landlord’s property as if it were their very own. Now I am not, and would not, tar all landlords with the same brush. As we know, while there are disreputable ones, there are also excellent decent ones spread right across this county. In fact our own landlord is a gentleman. But the sad fact for many renters, i.e. those who have been, and who currently are, in successful residencies, (and the Focus Ireland stats back this us), is that they can often find themselves left at the mercy of their landlord’s whims and are sometimes given insufficient notice to vacate a property. When this happens, not only are families/couples left without somewhere safe and secure to lay their heads, but their entire life also begins to fall apart. And, if a relocation means that jobs and school placements are put at risk, then the onset could mean a possible breakdown in an entire family’s mental health, wellbeing and structure. I tell ya folks, when this State places its citizens in a precarious situation where they cannot find a place to call home and where government policy is to ignore the desperate need to build houses, then it’s my opinion that we’ve not just lost the battle for a roof over our heads, we’ve catastrophically lost the entire war for our basic human rights. I don’t know about you readers, but for me, this is definitely not good enough. 


Up the Rossies!

The county is on a high this week, and it’s all down to the new Connacht champions and their spectacular second-half comeback! Comhghairdeas lads. You did yourselves and your county proud.