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16th Nov 2022

Vicky Phelan: Taoiseach agrees for “full disclosure” legislation to be brought by end of the year

Ellen Fitzpatrick

“Work is flat out seeking to get that done before the end of the year.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has agreed to legislation to ensure “full disclosure” for patients to be brought to the Dáil and Seanad before the year is out in the wake of Vicky Phelan’s death.

Martin has described Vicky as a woman with “extraordinary bravery, integrity and generosity of spirit”, noting that along with others, she had been “failed so dismally”.

After Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald made comments in the Dáil yesterday regarding Vicky’s sad passing, Martin vowed that the Government will work “might and main” to ensure the Patient Safety Bill will be brought to the houses of the Oireachtas before the end of this year.

This legislation was initially initiated in 2019 following the Cervical Check scandal.

The Daily Mail has reported that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will bring the draft legislation before the Dáil in the coming weeks and is waiting on approval of text in the bill regarding nursing homes, which is believed to come in the next week or so.

Martin said: “There was agreement among the parties at committee stage that at report stage that an agreed amendment would come forward in respect of full disclosure. In my view there has been a lot of different perspectives within the health professional community for a long, long time, although many would support the duty of candour, and the spirit of the idea and principle of candour in respect of full disclosure to patients.

“I had discussions with the Minister [Donnelly]. He’s indicating to me that working with the Attorney General’s office that we will have that amendment prior to the end of the year, and we’ll work with all parties to see how we can bring this to a conclusion.”

Speaking about Vicky in the Dáil, McDonald asked when the screening would be brought back to The Coombe in Dublin as it was one of Vicky’s final wishes.

Calling on the Taoiseach to confirm when this will happen, she said: “It was a massive, massive – in fact catastrophic – error for the laboratory service and for screening not to be carried out in this jurisdiction.”

“The building works for the new laboratory were completed in October of this year,” he responded. “It’s expected to become operational by the end of the year. Work is flat out seeking to get that done before the end of the year.”