Department criticised for accusing CervicalCheck patient advocate of lying on social media

Department criticised for accusing CervicalCheck patient advocate of lying on social media
Lorraine Walsh pictured with Stephen Teap last year

There are calls on the Department of Health to explain how it treated a CervicalCheck patient advocate.

A letter from the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan to Lorraine Walsh on March 13 accused her of making false statements on Twitter and in the media when she criticsed the management of the crisis.

The details of the correspondence emerged today - months after a parliamentary question and a freedom of information request were submitted by Labour's Health Spokesperson, Alan Kelly.

"Correspondence released to me between the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), and patient advocate Lorraine Walsh shows the toxic atmosphere that has existed between officials and those who have sought answers on the Cervical Check scandal," Mr Kelly said, adding that Health Minister Simon Harris needed to answer how this was allowed to happen.

”The documents show that the Chief Medical Officer accused Ms Walsh of making 'a defamatory and untrue statement' and all but threatened legal action against a patient advocate who has sought answers and accountability for what happened to women across Ireland.

"The CMO then sought mediation to resolve the dispute. The FOI release of correspondence indicates no further efforts have been made to address this issue," he added.

Mr Kelly also criticised the Minister for the length of time it took for the department to respond to his FOI request, which he submitted. A Parliamentary Question was first tabled by Labour's health spokesman on July 8 and a Freedom of Information request on July 25 seeking correspondence between patient advocates and health officials, according to the Labour Party.

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