“I don’t want your apologies. I don’t want your tributes. I don’t want your aide de camp at my funeral. I don’t want your accolades or your broken promises. I want action. I want change. I want accountability.”
These were the words of CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan who died this morning aged 48. Vicky was one of the hundreds of women in Ireland who received incorrect negative smear tests and weren’t informed for years. Many of these women have since passed away. This was a result of outsourcing of lab checks to a private US company at the cheapest price possible. It is a criminal example of cost cutting measures in our health service and the prioritising of profits over health.
Despite her terminal cancer diagnosis in 2014, Vicky has been a tireless campaigner in highlighting this scandal and fighting for real change and accountability in the health service. She took the HSE to court, refused to sign a confidentiality agreement and fought for full public disclosure.
The bravery of Vicky and other women who went public exposed the scandal of the CervicalCheck scandal and the cost cutting measures of the HSE has left a lasting impact on Irish society. We need to fight for a fully funded health service that is easily accessed by all with no cuts and no outsourcing of services that is fully accountable.
We send our condolences and solidarity to the family and friends of Vicky and everyone who has been moved and inspired by her unwavering bravery and determination.