Irish actor Chris Newman talks about new film 'The Letters' which is based around the CervicalCheck scandal.
CervicalCheck is a scheme in Ireland where women aged 25-60 years are offered a free smear test, every 1-3 years.
Over the last 10 years, CervicalCheck has provided three million smears to 1.8million women. Approximately 280,000 per year have gotten a smear under CervicalCheck.
In 2011 Vicky Phelan attended CervicalCheck for her routine smear. Soon after she received false clear results and three years later was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“There are no winners here today, I am terminally ill and there is no cure for my cancer” Vicky Phelan stated in 2018, minutes after being awarded €2.5 million in her case against a US testing lab over the misreading of her smear tests under the CervicalCheck programme.
Over 1,480 cases of cervical cancer were notified to the CervicalCheck programme since 2008. In most cases, it said there was no need for a further review. But in 442 of the cases, it was decided that a review was warranted.
In 206 of these cases, the delay in the cancer being detected meant these women missed out on earlier intervention. Shockingly, 221 women went on to develop cervical cancer and sadly a number have since died.
Chris Newman caught up with Family Friendly HQ this week to tell us about a pending movie 'The Letters' based around the CervicalCheck Scandal.
Set against the backdrop of the Cervical Check scandal which affected hundreds of Irish women, 'The Letters' tells the story of three women whose lives change dramatically when they each receive letters informing them that the smear tests and health checks they have been attending over the years and the all-clear diagnosis they received have been false.
Faced with terminal cancer as a result of deliberate misdiagnosis, all women have been given just weeks left to live and face the life-altering contrast of how their seemingly mundane, day to day routines will now become the most difficult last few days they will spend with family and friends.
A harrowing story that Chris hopes never happens to Irish women again.
“I hope it shines a light on what these women went through in the hopes that it never happens again. They were all badly let down by our health system.”
Newman, an Irish actor who has appeared in many well-known Irish films, such as ’Song for a Raggy Boy’ and ’Perrier's Bounty’ and TV series ’The Clinic’, ’Love is the Drug’, ’Stardust’, ’Love/Hate’ and ’Red Rock’ tells us a little more about this eye-opening movie in the works.
“We have an incredible cast attached to the film including Patrick Bergin who is a legend in the industry and we worked together closely on Red Rock when he played my grandfather,” says Newman.
“It’s a story that needs to be told. I read recently that in the cases of 208 women diagnosed with cervical cancer, an original smear test had falsely given them the all-clear. In total, 162 of these women were not told about the revised results and of these women, 17 are now dead. If signs of the cancer had been detected in the original tests, women may have received treatment earlier” Newman continued.
Newman says the director Robbie Walsh is fantastic and has a raw style which will no doubt project the meaning behind this movie fantastically.
“I’ve known Robbie Walsh for many years. We first worked together as actors on Love/Hate and then soon after he approached me about a film he was writing and directing called 'Eden'. I have nothing but fond memories of shooting that. He has a very raw and gritty style that reminds me of Shane Meadows and Ken Loach.”