Minister commits to additional funding for 221+ Group

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD met with representatives of the 221+ Group – the CervicalCheck patients support group, the Marie Keating Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society yesterday. At the meeting, the Minister committed to providing additional funding for the 221+ Group beyond the current agreement.

The Minister for Health said; “I am pleased to announce that I am committed to approving funding for the 221+ Support Group beyond August 2021.  This funding will support the 221+ Group going forward so that it can continue its very important work in assisting patients and next of kin of those directly affected by the CervicalCheck issues through the provision of information, advice and support.”

At the meeting, the Minister also committed to appointing a second patient representative from the 221+ group to the CervicalCheck Steering Committee.  The membership of the Committee is drawn from across a variety of organisations, such as the Department of Health, the HSE, the Irish Cancer Society, the RCPI and the ICGP.

The Minister for Health said; “I would like to acknowledge the important contribution that the 221+ Group make, ensuring that the voices of women and families affected are heard in the delivery of our National Screening Services. I am looking forward to working with the group to ensure that Ireland continues on the journey to best-in-class population health screening services for cervical cancer.

“I am fully committed to ensuring and supporting the central role that patients play in working with the public health service to develop health policy and in designing and reforming health services.   It is vital that government hears and includes the voice of the service user.  Patient representatives participate on a number of committees and working groups across the Department of Health, the HSE and health agencies and make a significant contribution to the strategic decision-making work of those committees and groups.”

A representative for the 221+ Group said the following in response:

“The government has it within its hands to finally put the errors of CervicalCheck behind the state. To do so requires a commitment in leadership and momentum. Yesterday’s meeting with Minister Donnelly was a careful but hopeful first step in that direction. The discussion was informed and respectful.

The Minister’s commitment to restarting the work of the Cervical Check Steering Committee with an independent Chair and three patient advocates is critical as it is the forum to enable oversight and input to all of the issues that are still to be addressed.

His commitment also to continued funding for 221+ to provide much needed support to the women and families living with the consequences of the CervicalCheck debacle is appreciated.

There is still a lot to be done but we acknowledge the efforts of the Minister to engage with the detail of the issues and we look forward to progressing the work required with a similar intent.”