Vicky Phelan to get UL honorary doctorate for 'tremendous courage and determination'

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Vicky Phelan: To receive honorary doctorate from UL Picture: Fergal Philips/Sunday Independent

Vicky Phelan: To receive honorary doctorate from UL Picture: Fergal Philips/Sunday Independent

THE University of Limerick is to confer an honorary doctorate on Vicky Phelan in recognition of her “exceptional commitment to improving women’s healthcare in Ireland”.

Annacotty woman Vicky, whose High Court case exposed the CervicalCheck scandal in which hundreds of women were not informed of smear test reviews, is a graduate and former employee of UL.

The 43-year-old mother-of-two, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January, struck a €2.5m High Court settlement with a US laboratory in April that in turn exposed the CervicalCheck scandal.

A UL spokesperson said Ms Phelan had “shown tremendous courage and determination since her diagnosis of terminal cervical cancer.

“Erudite, articulate and forthright, Vicky has contributed to uncovering a scandal which has affected the lives of hundreds of women and their families, and in doing so has given immeasurable service to the women of this country.

“As a result of her dedication to helping other people in similar circumstances, an investigation of the shortcomings of the current system is taking place so that in future, Ireland will have the benefit of a service corresponding to the highest international standards.

“Underpinning her commitment to women’s health, despite her own situation, Vicky has continued to call on women to participate in the cervical screening programme,” the spokesperson added.

Vicky will be conferred with an honorary doctorate of letters at UL on Tuesday, June 26, at the Irish World Academy.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee recently, she said she wants action taken to ensure what happened to her does not happen to anybody else.

“The big thing for me is patient safety. I’m not interested in any kind of revenge, that’s not what I’m here for. I do want to see accountability and I would like to see a legacy – a legacy that this will  never happen again to any woman, man or child in this country because this is not just a woman issue.

"This is affecting men and children who are without their mothers and their wives. I never want to see this happen again,” said Ms Phelan, who was accompanied by her solicitor Cian O’Carroll throughout the hearing.

“If I do die, I want it to be not in vain and I want to ensure there are protocols put in place – sanctions  for people who made these mistakes and are held accountable and the HSE is overhauled – and I mean overhauled from the ground up - so that people are held accountable and that this will never happen again in any shape or form.”