221+ brief Members of the Oireachtas at Leinster House

Ceara Martyn, Lyn Fenton, Rosie Condra, Padraig McKeon, Alan Kelly

On 13th July 221+ gave a briefing to Members of the Oireachtas at the Dáil. The purpose was to launch the 221+ Strategic Plan and discuss current and future action in women’s healthcare. The briefing was well attended (list of names to come).

Overall, the message was that the government needs to restore public trust in healthcare in Ireland, and that this is possible with open, human communication with patients and investment in women’s healthcare.

As ever, we commend our Patient Representatives for their dedicated advocacy not only for 221+ members, but for excellent and dignified healthcare for all in Ireland. It is a role we wish wasn’t needed but in which they step up for us all at the same time they are dealing with the personal effects of the CervicalCheck failures.

We also thank Deputy Allan Kelly, who sponsored the briefing and ended it with a call to action from his colleagues at the Dáil, and 221+ Communications Advisor Padraig McKeon for facilitating the event and all the support he provides to members in the public eye.

The points covered by the briefing are as follows:

  • Lyn Fenton and Rosie Condra, 221+ Patient Representatives on the Steering Group, along with 221+ Manager Ceara Martyn briefed the room on 221+’s current work. They reiterated the need for continued, lifelong support for the women and next of kin impacted by the CervicalCheck debacle.

 

  • Ceara Martyn discussed 221+ advocacy for essential services such as lymphedema management, living with cancer (survivorship) or psycho-oncology. It was noted that 221+ also advocates at the policy level – a recent example is their submission to the AHR bill as well as providing information to members about surrogacy and IVF.

 

  • Rosie Condra and Lyn Fenton elaborated on their personal experiences with CervicalCheck, the unequal power dynamics that are felt in the doctor’s office and what is needed beyond Open Disclosure – a move towards transparency and respect towards all patients but especially within gynaecological healthcare.

 

  • The combative and traumatic atmosphere 221+ members face in courts proceedings was discussed as well as the inadequacy of the CervicalCheck Tribunal to provide a viable alternative. This was a discussion point from several Oireachtas Members.

 

  • It was also questioned why screening services are still not entirely run within Ireland, without the use of outsourcing. This is an outstanding recommendation from the Scally report.

 

  • Finally, Ceara Martyn discussed the implementation of the Scally report’s recommendations. It was noted that any processes put in place will need continued oversight and good governance, a key part of which is to have Patient Representatives at the decision-making level rather than simply the review stage. For example, the Woman’s Health Task Force currently does not include Patient Representatives. The spirit of the Scally report needs to be carried over across all healthcare initiatives to develop the best health service possible.

 

Media responses:

Irish Examiner : Women ‘can’t trust CervicalCheck until slides are tested in this country’ (irishexaminer.com)

On Tribunal claims closure –

Irish Times : Cabinet told just 20 claims made to CervicalCheck Tribunal – The Irish Times

Daily Mail : in print, 13 July