Vicky: ‘I learned that blaming Government gets you nowhere’
CERVICALCHECK campaigner Vicky Phelan has said she learned ‘early on’ that she couldn’t be too critical of the Government otherwise ‘nothing would get done’.
The Limerick mother-of-two announced earlier this week that she would be writing a book about her life in the leadup to her cancer diagnosis followed by the CervicalCheck scandal which she managed to single-handedly shove into the spotlight earlier this year. She also revealed she’s in the process of making a documentary which will focus on the CervicalCheck scandal in more detail.
Almost eight months on from her refusal to sign a confidentiality agreement with the HSE, which would have kept the knowledge of misdiagnosis and delayed reporting to cancer patients a secret, Ms Phelan said she wouldn’t have managed to achieve what she’s achieved had she ‘rubbished the Government’.
Speaking with the Irish Mail on Sunday, she said: ‘I have to be careful – tread a very thin... I can’t diss them too much otherwise you get nowhere. I’ve learned that very quickly.
‘You have to have an “in” and be diplomatic in order to get stuff done. I don’t think I’d have achieved as much as I have if I had been totally rubbishing the Government all the time. That gets you nowhere because they won’t listen. They’ll just shut down and you won’t be able to get anywhere with them.
‘I work in the public sector and things happen very slowly. There are strategies you have to use to get things done so I just applied the same strategies with what I’m doing with the Government and Simon Harris. ‘I get on quite well with Simon Harris. He hasn’t always made the right decisions but he’ll put his hands up and own up and say that he hasn’t done the right thing. ‘When I went up to meet Leo, I felt strongly that what he promised about women not being dragged through the courts was totally wrong. We see Ruth Morrissey being dragged through the courts, very ill. I had to call him out on it.’
Ms Phelan has been integral in ensuring independent enquiries were carried out into the management of CervicalCheck. She also helped set up the 221+ patient support group aimed at helping women and the families affected by the scandal. Most recently, she has managed to secure funding for women with cervical cancer to avail of the costly drug, pembrolizumab, a ‘wonder drug’ which she believes has vastly improved her condition.
The HPV vaccine will also be offered to boys as well as girls from the start of the next school year following a HIQA inquiry, along with pressure from Ms Phelan and other campaigners.
case: Ruth Morrissey at the High Court