“A lot of lessons” still to be learned from cervical smear scandal, says Vicky Phelan 1 year ago

“A lot of lessons” still to be learned from cervical smear scandal, says Vicky Phelan

She's making history.

Vicky Phelan has been awarded the Freedom of Limerick and hopes that her legacy will encourage women "to stand up for themselves" when it comes to their healthcare.


The Kilkenny native was given the prestigious award by Limerick City and County Council to honour her for exposing the CervicalCheck scandal.

Vicky was one of the leading voices when it was found that women had not been informed that their clear smear tests were actually inaccurate and left them undiagnosed for years.

Vicky is now in palliative cancer care and has spread the message for those in her position to not "be afraid to take them on."

After taking legal action against a US lab used by the HSE to assess the smear tests and the HSE themselves, Vicky said she wouldn't change it “because it meant that it opened the door for other people to get their cases heard, to get justice, and to get financial compensation for families”.


Adding that her opinion the CervicalCheck tribunal has been a failure, she said it was disappointing for this outcome.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Vicky Phelan (@vickykellyphelan)

She said: "It’s been very upsetting and very disappointing to see, particularly with the amount of money spent on (the tribunal), well over €2.5 million, and only 10 women or families have applied to it."


Only 10 women in Ireland took claims this way, with 336 taking action in the High Court.

Saying there are "lots" of lessons to learn still when it comes to the quality of healthcare, she referred to the children in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs), saying it “reminded me so much of what had happened with CervicalCheck”.

“Here we go again, it’s another scandal that shouldn’t be happening, and again we are talking about a non-adversarial tribunal, that really doesn't exist in this country as we already know, so there is a lot to be learned,” Vicky said.

Calling once again on the Government to establish a minister for women's health, she added: "I’ve been challenged on that before, but I honestly don't think a man can could ever really understand what it’s like being a woman. A lot of doctors, particularly in gynaecology are men, there are very few female gynaecologists; how can a man ever understand what it’s like for a woman to have a period, to go through childbirth, to go through menopause?”


Saying she wants to be remembered as someone who "asks questions...one person can make a difference, and if you ask questions, the worst thing that can happen is that people can say ‘no’, but certainly if your life is on the line, you certainly should be asking more questions”.

“That’s really what I would advise anybody to do, so I suppose my legacy is that I would hope people would learn to stand up for themselves”.

Vicky has been the fifth person since 1887 to be made a Freewoman of Limerick.