The SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Biennial Delegate Conference was today (Tuesday, 16th October) told that creeping health service privatisation lay at the root of the Cervical Check scandal, by the union’s Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley. Addressing the more than 170 delegates gathered in the Imperial Hotel in Cork City, Buckley said that the SIPTU leadership pledged to “continue to fight with all of the might of our union to ensure that vital health services and other public services are publicly funded and operated in the common good”. Buckley said: “The human tragedy of outsourcing has now been laid bare for all to see with the Cervical Check scandal. Women were yet again let down badly by the State. SIPTU stands in solidarity with these brave women. The bravery and resilience of Vicky Phelan in fighting a High Court battle to uncover the real reason why she had been misdiagnosed – resulting in a fatal delay in her treatment for cervical cancer- revealed the appalling impact of creeping health privatisation.” She added: “For rather than carry out the analysis of vital smear tests in Ireland, it was decided to send them to a private for-profit company in the US. Only a full investigation will confirm what part this decision played in hundreds of women’s misdiagnoses, but the moral bankruptcy of such decision-making is already crystal clear. “These ideological decisions are nothing new in the Irish health system which is brutally divided along class lines between a private system and a public system, the failings of which are relentlessly used to frighten people into paying for health insurance.” In her address, Buckley also said the union was committed to developing local structures to increase its ability to campaign and force change on issues of importance to members. She added that this approach was already being pursued by the SIPTU Big Start Campaign which was focused on “opening up a national conversation about how we care for and educate our youngest citizens as well as how we should treat the workers who provide this essential service to families”.