Tag Archives: Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ mandate in respect of the CervicalCheck programme

Last night.

Vicky Phelan briefly returned to Twitter after closing her account last week following tweets by cancer researcher Dr Robert Grimes and an article by Dr Ciara Kelly in the Sunday Independent.

Her return came in the wake of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ review of CervicalCheck slides on Tuesday which found that in 159 cases there were missed opportunities to prevent or diagnose cancer earlier.

It also followed Lorraine Walsh’s announcement that she had resigned from the CervicalCheck steering committee.

Vicky tweeted:

“I have decided to reactivate my Twitter account for a very brief period in order to express my views on the RCOG Review process.

I fully support Lorraine Walsh’s decision to step down from the Cervical Check steering committee.

I share Lorraine’s concerns about the RCOG review process. I would like to state, for the record, that I do not have confidence in the RCOG review process.

The RCOG review was established to examine the individual histories of women who had been through the CervicalCheck screening system and who had developed cervical cancer and to determine, in cases where results were discordant, what was the impact on treatment, prognosis and outcome.

It is notable that the focus yesterday by Government was on RCOG’s endorsement of the screening programme RATHER than on the impact of the findings for those women and families, which was ACTUALLY the purpose of the review. Lorraine bravely outlined her experience on RTÉ’s Prime Time.

To reiterate: Lorraine’s experience of the RCOG Review was, as follows Lorraine was first told that her slides could not be traced, she was then given a set of results even though her slides supposedly didn’t exist and, 24 hours later, was presented with a new report with entirely different results.

On further investigation, she found that labelling had been removed from both her slides and mine and our slides were subsequently mislabelled.

These events do NOT instil confidence in the RCOG process. Lorraine stood down from the CervicalCheck Steering Committee accordingly, a decision I wholeheartedly agree with.

Lorraine’s decision was based on an unwavering commitment to the women and families of the 221+ group, a group that Lorraine helped found and which she has dedicated the past 12 months of her life helping women and families caught up in this debacle.

Lorraine has requested that each woman be given the option of getting individual independent reviews of their smear screening, cytological and clinical history. This is the only way to conclusively give peace of mind to the women and families affected.

This is an essential step to ensure that lingering concerns about past failures in CervicalCheck do NOT undermine future confidence in the screening programme, a programme we both want to restore trust in.”

Vicky was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.

She settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million in April of last year.

Ms Phelan’s refusal to sign a gagging order about her case led to the knowledge that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Via Vicky Phelan

Yesterday: “We’re Behind You 100%, Vicky”

Earlier: ‘Where Is The Future For Cervical Screening?’


Stephen Teap, Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh outside Leinster House after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apologised to the victims of the CervicalCheck scandal in October

This afternoon.

Lorraine Walsh spoke to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio One about her resignation from the CervicalCheck steering committee.

At the end of her interview, she sent a shout-out to Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan who is currently receiving treatment in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.

She settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million in April of last year.

Ms Phelan’s refusal to sign a gagging order about her case led to the knowledge that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Just as her interview with Mr D’Arcy was about to wrap up, Ms Walsh said:

“Before I go, can I just say one last thing. I want to say hello to our very good friend, Vicky Phelan, who is listening from St Vincent’s Hospital today and is one of the women, as you all know, is caught up in the middle of this.

“But, you know, she’s in having treatment today. She was also in hospital yesterday so, you know, we forget sometimes that Vicky is fighting a battle and we’re behind you 100 per cent, Vicky.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: “I Spoke To The Minister For Health About My Concerns”

Previously: ‘Tell That To My Children, And The Children Of Emma Mhic Mhathúna And Ruth Morrissey’


From top: Vicky Phelan; Dr David Robert Grimes; Dr Ciara Kelly; tweet from Dr David Robert Grimes this week, apology from Dr Grimes, Dr Kelly on Tonight last night 


Dr Ciara Kelly, of Newstalk, wrote an opinion piece last week’s Sunday Independent in which she asserted that medical screening services are under threat from litigation.

Dr Kelly argued:

Cervical screening saves Irish women’s lives. It is a public health success story, despite its limitations. If it is sued into oblivion, despite delivering results comparable to all international norms, who will benefit? Certainly not women. No one will benefit except those in receipt of legal fees.

…Our adversarial, highly litigious legal system is simply not compatible with the high level of false negatives in even the best public health screening. My understanding is that the lawyers are now circling BreastCheck too, to the extent that its legal costs are mounting.

Lawyers, currently being lauded as women’s advocates, will have done women no favours. No favours at all.

Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan, who has been an ardent advocate for women to use cervical screening services since the day she went public with her case, posted several tweets in response to Dr Kelly’s article.

Ms Phelan was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error. She settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million.

Ms Phelan’s refusal to sign a gagging order about her case led to the knowledge that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Referring to Dr Kelly’s claims that people view CervicalCheck as “cause for litigation”, Ms Phelan said:

“This is simply not true. Of the 221 group so far, ONLY 6 cases have hit the courts. Yes, there are more cases pending but it is certainly not the case that all of the 221plus have cause to sue.

“I take offence at Ciara’s claim that ‘no one will benefit from suing except those in receipt of legal fees’.

“Tell that to my children, and the children of Emma Mhic Mhathúna and Ruth Morrissey who have successfully sued and who will not see our children grow up.

“Our settlements will be used to ‘benefit’ our families when we are gone.”

And in relation to the inference that those who sue will be the downfall of CervicalCheck screening programme, Ms Phelan said:

“CervicalCheck did that all on its own, as the Scally Report has shown.”

On Wednesday night, cancer researcher Dr David Robert Grimes, who has been promoting his book The Irrational Ape the past number of months, tweeted about Ms Phelan’s use of one of the therapies she uses – hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a process that involves breathing pure oxygen in an enclosed chamber.

He said:

“What’s the correct etiquette for when a high profile national hero pushes dangerous pseudoscience? Asking for a friend (and) my sanity, as I would really prefer not to get the inevitable hate for calling it.”

Later, he tweeted:

“… apropos of nothing, hyperbaric oxygen therapy should not be advocated for conditions for which it is devoid of efficacy, (and) comes with risk of harm. It is not certainly not a cancer treatment, & can cause active damage. Please take medical advice only from your physician.”

Ms Phelan subsequently closed her Twitter account.

Yesterday, Dr Grimes apologised saying:

Yesterday I tweeted something thoughtless, & hurt a passionate patient advocate. My remark was ill-judged, & I I apologise unreservedly to Vicky Phelan for any hurt I caused.

Meanwhile, last night, Dr Kelly was on Virgin Media One’s Tonight show in which she told presenter Ivan Yates to “hold your horses” when he suggested she was “having a go at the legal profession and the claimants”.

Dr Kelly said she was wasn’t talking about the claimants but she was talking “about what the court system did”.

Dr Ciara Kelly: ‘Who benefits if screening is sued to oblivion? Not women’ (Sunday Independent)

‘I take offence’ – Vicky Phelan hits back at Ciara Kelly’s ‘disrespectful’ CervicalCheck article (Neil Michael, Irish Examiner)

From top: John Wall and medical card entitlement for ‘Frontier Workers’



Frontier worker?

Rollingnews/ Clare FM

Vicky Phelan

In today’s Irish Times,  Health Correspondent Paul Cullen has an interview with Limerick mother-of-two Vicky Phelan – one year on from her High Court case where she settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million.

Ms Phelan, who refused to sign a gagging order about her case, was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.

Following her case, it later emerged that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Mr Cullen reports:

“…Ms Phelan said the Taoiseach ‘just doesn’t get it’ in relation to fixing the problems that have arisen.

‘The classic example is him going on Six One News saying no woman would ever have to go into court, and look what’s happened. That’s still the case and not only that, the tribunal has not yet been established in order for that not to happen.

I don’t think he gets it at all. And it’s not just because he’s a gay man, I just don’t think he gets it.’

…’I think we got a lot of promises made at the time, not to shut us up but to “give them what they want quickly and get them off the pages”.

‘Until we have a situation in this country where people are held accountable for what they’ve done, these things are just going to keep happening and there’ll be another scandal,’ she said.”

Meanwhile, during an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning, Ms Phelan apologised for and clarified her ‘gay man’ comment (above).

She said:

“I’m critical of the Government in general. I suppose, I think some of what I said was taken out of context and I would like to apologise to the Taoiseach for the comment in today’s article.

“What I said, I was trying to make the point that the issues faced by the women and their families are wide-ranging, they involve input from a wide range of players, from the Department of Health to the HSE, legal profession, the medical profession, and the Attorney General’s office to draft up this legislation.

“And basically any unwillingness or inertia on the part of one player can hold everything up and that is exactly what has happened over the last 12 months.”

Asked specifically what she was trying to say when she made the “gay man” comment, Vicky said:

“This is a women’s issue and it’s always about women, that was the point I was making. It wasn’t anything to do with the Taoiseach being gay, whatsoever. That was totally taken out of context.”

“We’ve seen it on a number of occasions over the last number of years, Miriam, between the different scandals that have happened to women. Bridget McCole, the Hepatitis C scandal…I think we have a very poor record and poor history in this country in dealing with women’s issues.”

Vicky Phelan criticises Varadkar for ‘unacceptable delays’ (Paul Cullen, The Irish Times)

Listen back to interview in full here


Vicky Pelan


In the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Valerie Hanley reported that 92 women are suing the State over the CervicalCheck smear test scandal.

Ms Hanley also reported that 80 per cent of these cases have been lodged since Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan settled her High Court action against Clinical Pathology Laboratories in Austin, Texas, for €2.5 million, last April.

Vicky Phelan (Twitter)

92 women suing State over CervicalCheck smear tests misreading scandal (Valerie Hanley, Extra)

This afternoon.

BBC  announced its list of “100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2018”.


(75) Vicky Phelan exposed the CervicalCheck Screening scandal in Ireland, after discovering she and hundreds of other women were not told they had been given incorrect smear test results.

In fairness.

BBC 100 Women 2018: Who is on the list? (BBC)

Yesterday’s Sunday Business Post


The Sunday Business Post published a lengthy interview with former chief of the HSE Tony O’Brien, his first interview since he left the organisation in May, following the cervical check scandal.

In the interview, Mr O’Brien said the Minister for Health Simon Harris acted like a “frightened little boy” during the CervicalCheck controversy and said he’s a weak minister obsessed with media coverage and “runs scared of headlines”.

He said the Public Accounts Committee acted like “a kangaroo court”, and he specifically accused Sinn Féin of being “destructive”.

He said Sinn Féin had “effectively swapped the balaclava for parliamentary privilege”, adding that “the bile and vitriol with which they attack public servants continuously is staggering”.

He also said he hoped a “sense of decorum and fairness would return to Irish political life and to the mainstream Irish media”.

Further to this…

Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan has tweeted her thoughts on the interview.

In April Ms Phelan sued a US laboratory for misreading her cervical smear test and received a settlement of €2.5million in the High Court.

After Ms Phelan went public on the matter, it emerged that 221 women with cervical cancer, whose previous smear tests were reviewed after they received a diagnosis of cancer, were not told that their smear tests had actually been recategorised on review and that they could have been advised to have an earlier follow-up or warned of an increased risk of developing cancer.

Meanwhile, Cork dad-of-two Stephen Teap, whose late wife Irene was one of the 221 women, also responded to the article…

And Lorraine Walsh, from Galway, who is also one of the 221 women and who cannot have children as a result of her cervical cancer, also responded…

Ex-HSE chief: Harris is a weak minister, the PAC is a ‘kangaroo court’ (Susan Mitchell, Sunday Business Post)

Last night.

Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan (top), who has terminal cancer, tweeted:

One delighted parent here signing consent forms for the #hpvvaccine for my daughter, Amelia. 6 months ago, I didn’t think I would be here to consent to this vaccine that will mean my daughter will NEVER get cervical cancer. Parents pls consent to this life-saving vaccine.

Previously: ‘I Hope Some People Will Eat Humble Pie’

RTÉ Radio One’s Ray D’Arcy Show yesterday


On RTÉ’s Ray D’Arcy Show.

Mr D’Arcy spoke with Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan, who has terminal cancer; Cork dad-of-two Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died last year of cervical cancer, and Lorraine Walsh, from Galway, who cannot conceive due to having had cervical cancer.

The comprehensive hour-long interview with Mr D’Arcy followed the publication of Dr Gabriel Scally’s report into the CervicalCheck screening programme.

In the opening paragraph of his report’s foreword, Dr Scally wrote:

This major crisis emerged into the public domain because of a failed attempt to disclose the results of a retrospective audit to a large group of women who had, unfortunately, developed cervical cancer. In particular, it emerged because of the extraordinary determination of Vicky Phelan not [to] be silenced. But there are many indications that this was a system that was doomed to fail at some point. “

Yet, at one point, Mr D’Arcy put it to Ms Phelan that she had found herself being criticised over the past few months.

Most notably, on August 1, Ms Phelan tweeted to say she was taking a break from Twitter and commenting publicly on the scandal, while mentioning that some people had been “condemning” her for “bringing down the cervical screening programme”.

Three weeks later, on August 21, Eilish O’Regan, in the Irish Independent, reported that there had been no fall-off in the number of women going for smear tests with CervicalCheck – despite the controversy.

Ms Phelan has repeatedly encouraged women to continue to get smear tests via CervicalCheck in all her interviews.

From yesterday’s discussion…

Ray D’Arcy: “I find it hard to believe, Vicky Phelan, but you have your critics. People are…”

Vicky Phelan: “Oh I’ve, by god, I do.”

D’Arcy: “And what are they saying?”

Phelan: “They’re not, you see, they’re clever enough in that they’re not explicitly saying, you know, mentioning me but, you know, it’s kind of going around about the house, saying that ‘all of these women’, you know with, ‘their obscene payouts’ will, you know, ‘bring down this screening programme’ and ‘screening saves lives’. But sure I’ve never said anything but, I’ve always said screening saves lives.”

All I’ve ever said and I’ve never changed, and I’ve never wavered was that I had an issue with the way CervicalCheck was run. And I am vindicated today.”

D’Arcy: “Completely vindicated.”

Stephen Teap: “100% you are, yeah.”

Phelan: “Thank god, is all I can say. So I hope some people will eat humble pie I can tell you.”

D’Arcy:They should read the report and come back to you.”

Via RTE Radio One

Previously: Cruel Summer