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27 November 2023

221+ has reached an agreement with the National Screening Service (NSS), CervicalCheck and the Department of Health on the initiation of Restoration of Trust meetings with the women and families impacted by the historical missteps of CervicalCheck.

Details of the agreement – copy below – and the process for engagement for those who wish to pursue a meeting were shared with 221+ members at their Autumn gathering in Athlone on Saturday last (November 25, 2023).

The detail of a Restoration of Trust process, which was initially recommended in Dr. Gabriel Scally’s Review of CervicalCheck was first presented to 221+ in Autumn 2021, with a Facilitator appointed by the Minister to manage the process.

In its first form, the 221+ Steering Group was not happy that the terms and the context proposed were strong enough to present to members.

The most substantive concern was the absence of a recognition of the harm caused in the past. In raising that concern, 221+ was reflecting the views of members that the continuous attempts to reframe or overwrite the past had to be addressed before there could be trust in a conversation about the future.

A subgroup of the 221+ Steering Group was established to engage with the other stakeholders involved – the NSS, CervicalCheck, their parent body the HSE and the Department of Health. Facilitated by the Restoration of Trust Facilitator, the subgroup worked step by step through the detail required with each stakeholder to agree suitable terms for the process.

Introducing the document to members, 221+ Manager Ceara Martyn said “It took longer than we expected, but we were determined that it was worth spending time to get this right and that there was no value in getting a lesser outcome irrespective of the time taken. We now have a baseline that every member can refer to – a standard to guide any conversation that we might want to have, with those involved in our care, as an individual or as a group, privately or in public.

Lyn Fenton, a member of the 221+ Steering Group said “This has been a very important and valuable process. It was necessary because when we started there wasn’t a true recognition of what had happened or of the extent to which it had undermined our willingness to trust and our confidence that our trust would not be abused. I’m proud of the work done by everyone involved and I look forward to it being a basis on which we can all work together to underpin public confidence in screening which is a vital part of the programme to eliminate cervical cancer in Ireland”.

Background Note

The recommendation that a process be established to enable some form of engagement between those impacted and those who were involved in their care was initially set out in Dr. Gabriel Scally’s September 2018 Scoping-Inquiry Report.

In his subsequent (October 2018) report which recommended the establishment of a Tribunal to deal with claims arising from CervicalCheck, Justice Meenan recommended that the Tribunal also facilitate a Restoration of Trust Process to put the Scally recommendation into action. This was then enshrined in The Cervical Tribunal Act which was passed into law in June 2019.

RoTM Joint Statement: 221+, Dept of Health, NSS, Cervical Check – November 2023

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