The Newfoundland health authority at the centre of a breast cancer testing scandal began a news conference Thursday with an apology in response to the release of the Cameron inquiry report.
"First, let me say to those patients, we are sorry we have let you down and we have not lived up to your expectations, and while we can never fully understand what you've been through, we understand your need for action, and for answers," said Louise Jones, acting chief executive officer for Eastern Health.
"Justice [Margaret] Cameron's report continues to point the way forward. We have made many changes, and will continue to make changes so that this kind of event will not be repeated ever again.
"As much as I wish I could, we cannot change the past, and we must not forget it but we can make a difference when it comes to the future."
Justice Margaret Cameron's three-volume report on the seven-month public inquiry, which was released to the public Tuesday, makes 60 recommendations.
Between last March and October, Cameron heard often compelling — and sometimes heartbreaking — testimony about what went wrong between 1997 and 2005, when more than 400 breast cancer patients were erroneously given the wrong results on specific lab tests. The wrong results meant that some patients did not receive potentially lifesaving antihormonal treatment.
A class-action lawsuit has been certified in Newfoundland Supreme Court over the issue.
On Thursday, Eastern Health did not admit liability for the breast cancer testing mistakes, but Jones said the authority's insurance lawyers will address that issue soon.
However, she did mention compensation. "Patients will be compensated, that is not an issue," Jones said.
Peter Dawe, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society in Newfoundland and Labrador, attended the news conference.
"Ms. Jones was quite careful not to use the word liability, but she said they did make mistakes," Dawe said. "The premier has said get on with it. The patients are saying get on with it. So, our hope is that the insurance company actually listens to all these people."
However, Ches Crosbie, the St. John's lawyer leading the class action lawsuit against Eastern Health, said the insurance lawyers won't admit liability, and until they do, negotiations to settle out of court will remain stalled.