Martin: Unethical if women being denied healthcare due to advocacy group links

Gabriel Scully said it is 'disappointing' that members of 221+ are still not fully involved in discussions, decisions, and committees around CervicalCheck 
Martin: Unethical if women being denied healthcare due to advocacy group links

Speaking to the Irish Examiner in France on Thursday, the Taoiseach said it is “shocking” if this practice is occurring. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it would be unethical if clinicians were denying women healthcare due to their association with the 221+ patient advocate group.

Gabriel Scally, who was tasked with reviewing the CervicalCheck system and drawing up recommendations following the smear test controversy, has said women are being questioned about their association with the 221+ patient advocate group before clinicians consider treating them.

While Dr Scally said women now have a system they can trust, he said it is “disappointing” that members of 221+ are still not fully involved in discussions, decisions, and committees around the CervicalCheck programme.

Writing in his final report which examined the implementation of recommendations following the CervicalCheck controversy, Dr Scally said: “I have heard directly from women whose clinicians have questioned about any association with 221+ before the clinician will consider treating them.

"In the words of one woman, ‘I’ve been treated like a leper’,” he wrote.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner in France on Thursday, the Taoiseach said it is “shocking” if this practice is occurring.

He said: “That would be contrary to medical ethics in the first instance, that would be a very, very serious issue in terms of any person being denied healthcare, for any reason, particularly for being part of the 221+ group who did a lot in terms of progressive reform of the cervical check screening program, and broader issues.

“So, I think that needs to be followed through.” 

Mr Martin said he is not aware if any formal complaints have been made to the Medical Council about such incidents but added “that goes to the very heart of the conduct of medicine and would be a shocking situation if that is indeed the case.” 

CervicalCheck campaigner Lorraine Walsh said access to care had been raised by a number of women at a recent 221+ meeting.

"In some cases, their consultants will not see them anymore, and in other cases, they call up their consultant’s office and they’re asked are they a member of 221. If they are, they’re told, unfortunately, they don’t have any spaces to take them on."

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