Vicky Phelan joins support group for ‘221+’ affected by CervicalCheck controversy

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Fergal Philips/Sunday Independent

Vicky Phelan: Part of the process in healing from trauma is connecting with others who have been affected Picture: Fergal Philips/Sunday Independent

THE terminally-ill Limerick mother who lifted the lid on the CervicalCheck scandal has joined others impacted by the scandal in launching a support group for directly affected women and their families.

Vicky Phelan joined Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died from cervical cancer after she was given incorrect smear test results twice, and Lorraine Walsh, who was also diagnosed with cancer after an incorrectly-read smear test, to formally launch the ‘221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group.’

“The CervicalCheck scandal has been traumatic for the 221+ patients and their families,” Ms Phelan said, speaking at the launch. 

“Part of the process in healing from trauma is connecting with others who have been affected,” she added.

“One of the main functions of the 221+ Patient Support Group is to provide a safe, open, caring, supportive environment to allow this healing to take place,” she explained.

The group, which is supported by The Marie Keating Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Irish Patients Association, will represent the current known, and unknown women, and families impacted by the controversy. 

The ‘221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group’ aims to meet the needs of those directly affected by the CervicalCheck controversy, by providing information, advice and support in a structured and confidential manner. 

The group, which will operate independently of the HSE, will also provide expertise and advice to women in relation to a range of relevant topics, including information on clinical trials, and new treatments.

This Tuesday, the support group has welcomed the findings of Judge Charles Meenan who has recommended a tribunal be set up to determine claims from those affected by the Cervical Check controversy.

“We compliment Judge Charles Meenan on his work which included consultation with the women, their families and representatives,” 221+ said in a statement.

“We feel it important that a time limit is set on the establishment and work of this tribunal so that women, many of whom are ill, can be heard and have their issues resolved expediently.”

Relevant information and resources will be made available to 221+ members through a website, www.221plus.ie, which contains some public information on the group.

More information will also be provided via a closed members’ portal, which can be accessed with a unique access code.

This portal will also include an ‘Ask the Specialist’ service whereby members can send any queries or questions in confidence, and a response will be given within a defined period.

The 221+ Patient Support Group can be contacted on info@221plus.ie.