On the 13th March 2019, my Department’s press office received a query from a journalist seeking a comment for a story that was to be published the following day.
The query included a number of quotes containing statements attributed to a patient representative relating to the Chief Medical Officer which were due to be published in the media and would have been untrue. The Chief Medical Officer wrote to the patient representative on March 13th raising his concerns and offering to engage in mediation to facilitate the ongoing important work.
The Secretary General was aware of this matter prior to the correspondence concerned being issued.
On March 14th, contact was made with my office by a connected individual. I was out of the country at the time on official business. My office made me aware of the letter later that day. I spoke to senior officials in the Department of Health. As I have said, I accept the context in which the correspondence was issued.
The patient representatives play an important role in the ongoing work of my Department's CervicalCheck Steering Committee and on the HSE's working groups on this issue. I am also in regular contact with the patient advocates and believe it is vital that the health services support them and ensure their input is valued and respected, as does my Department. Both I and my Department are committed to working with patient representatives and health professionals across the health service towards effectively eradicating cervical cancer within a generation.