Vicky Phelan

A voice for women in medical malpractice

Victoria Phelan was an Irish healthcare campaigner, best known for her campaigning in the CervicalCheck cancer scandal.

In 2018, Vicky Phelan was instrumental in exposing the CervicalCheck controversy in Ireland after launching a High Court case against a US laboratory over incorrect smear test results from 2011. She refused to be silenced by an attempted gagging order after she took her case to court, and her actions led to the revelations that hundreds of other women had similarly been denied the truth. Phelan continues to campaign tirelessly on the issue at grassroots level alongside many other Irish women who were affected by the scandal. She has also set up the patients' support group, 221+, with fellow campaigners Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh.

Phelan has been recognized for her achievements for Irish women to date, awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Limerick in June 2018, an Honorary Fellowship by Waterford Institute of Technology in November 2018, named as one of the BBC's 100 Women of 2018, and awarded a Special Recognition Award at the Woman of the Year Awards in October 2018. Her actions have meant that women around Ireland affected by the scandal have been given a voice, the malpractice has been exposed, and many women were prompted to recheck results, which may well have saved lives. In February 2022, Phelan was awarded the Freedom of Limerick in recognition of her role in the CervicalCheck campaign. Phelan wrote her biography, Overcoming which won the An Post Irish Book of the Year award in 2019 as well as being the RTÉ Radio 1 Listeners’ Choice Award for that year. In 2022, a documentary about Phelan entitled Vicky was released in Irish cinemas.

Despite being told in 2018 that she had less than a year to live, Phelan went on to live for four more years. She successfully campaigned for access to pembrolizumab, which shrank her tumour and extended her life. Vicky passed away in November 2022, surrounded by her family.

In February 2023, legislation was introduced by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to make open disclosure mandatory in the healthcare system, with Donnelly commenting that this bill was brought forward as a result of Phelan. Alan Kelly, a Labour TD and friend of Phelan's, described the bill as "Vicky's legacy".

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicky_Phelan