Irish people need to "stand up for themselves" says Vicky Phelan
"As a nation, we should start taking control of our health."
Cancer sufferer and health campaigner Vicky Phelan has a simple message for the country: it's time that we stood up for ourselves.
The mum of two became a household name after she bravely refused to sign a gagging order about her medical negligence case – breaking a national scandal out about the cervical cancer screening service in the process. Now, Vicky has documented her battle for justice in her newly-released memoir, Overcoming.
Speaking to Her, Vicky admitted that over a year-and-a-half after she first spoke out, she finds it difficult to hear of fresh revelations and continuing problems with not just the screening but also the wider health service.
"In the grand scheme of things I'd love to see that we had a health service that actually works. That is not two tiered but and will only work for the private patients but will work for the public patients too. Hopefully Sláinte Care will provide that, but I cannot say that I'm very hopeful. We'll see."
Whether recommendations for reports are implemented and Government promises made good or not, Vicky says that the is one simple step that we could take towards having a health service that actually works for its patients.
"Irish people need to stand up for themselves.
"That can start with something as small as asking a question. The amount of people who ask me for advice, then come back to me and say: 'Oh Vicky you'd be so proud of me, I asked my doctor a question.' You might think that's trivial, but the amount of people who don't ask a question – they just go in and the doctor tells them what the treatment plan is, what the drugs they're going on are and barely allows enough time for questions."
By not just taking everything we are told at face value, we take ownership of our health, Vicky says.
"I think that when we start doing a little more questioning that people will get more confident and they might be more emboldened to ask questions that are difficult.
"That's where I would like to see us going as a nation, that we would start taking control of our health. Until we do that, the medical service and sector in this country is gong to continue on as before. They might not like questions, but I think if more people did it they would have no choice."
Overcoming by Vicky Phelan with Naomi Linehan, published by Hachette Ireland, is out now priced €14.99.