Cork CervicalCheck campaigner welcomes 'positive’ first meeting with minister

Cork CervicalCheck campaigner welcomes 'positive’ first meeting with minister

Lorraine Walsh, Stephen Teap, and Vicky Phelan surrounded by some of the 221 cervical cancer patients who received an incorrect smear test, leaving the Dáil last year after hearing the Taoiseach apologise to the victims of the CervicalCheck controversy. Picture: Sam Boal

A CORK CervicalCheck campaigner has welcomed additional funding for the 221+ group following a positive meeting with the minister for health.

Stephen Teap is a member of the 221+ group, which was established in July 2018 to provide information, advice, and support to the women and families directly affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

Mr Teap’s wife Irene was among the women who died from cervical cancer after receiving a false negative test result.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly met with representatives of the 221+ group in recent days.

At the meeting, the minister committed to providing additional funding for the group beyond the current agreement, which runs up to the end 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,” said Mr Donnelly.

At the meeting, the minister also committed to appointing a second patient representative from the 221+ group to the CervicalCheck steering committee.

The membership of the committee is drawn from across organisations including the Department of Health, HSE, the Irish Cancer Society, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and the Irish College of General Practitioners.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr Teap welcomed the positive meeting. “It was our first meeting with the new minister for health and it was a positive start,” he said.

“There is certainly a lot of work to be done.

“The minister has made promises and I hope he follows up with those commitments.

“We are now keen to get the CervicalCheck steering committee established and up and running and get the new member appointed.”

Mr Donnelly added: “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.

“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.”

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