Minister for Health commits to new funding for CervicalCheck support group

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has committed to providing additional funding for a CervicalCheck patients support group beyond the Government's current commitment to the next 12 months.

The Minister met yesterday with representatives of the 221+ patient support group, established in 2018 for women and families directly affected by failures in the CervicalCheck screening programme which came to light after a court case taken by Limerick woman Vicky Phelan over the reading of her smear test.

The 221+ group is an independent organisation governed by a committee which includes members of the Marie Keating Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society, and is not operated by the HSE or Department of Health.

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.

Minister Donnelly said he had committed to approving funding for the group beyond the current commitment of 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 yesterday’s meeting, the Minister also committed to appointing a second patient representative from the 221+ group to the CervicalCheck steering committee.

The steering committee was established to provide oversight on the implementation of key decisions taken by Government in relation to CervicalCheck, and includes members from the Department of Health, HSE and the Irish Cancer Society.

“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,” Minister Donnelly said.

“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.”