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Minister commits to paying patient advocates for their time and work

A new remuneration policy will be announced next month.

Patient advocates Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap.
Patient advocates Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap.
Image: Sam Boal

PATIENT ADVOCATES WHO often give up their own time to campaign for better health outcomes are soon to be remunerated for their work.

The issue of remuneration was highlighted as an issue with the establishment of the 221+ support group for those impacted by the CervicalCheck scandal, and also the setting up of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee.

Patient representatives, such as Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap who have worked to progress matters in relation to the smear test controversy and pushed for a full apology from the government, do not receive any payment for their work. 

Health Minister Simon Harris has now committed to changing that, stating yesterday that he “absolutely” intends to roll out a payments plan for those that give up their personal time to advocate for patients.

While he said he would not discuss an individual’s circumstances, he added:

I wish to see those people obviously paid for their time.

He said discussions have been held on patient advocates being remunerated and he intends to publish a policy paper by the end of October on how the government intends to support patient representatives.

The minister said thankfully there are now a number of patient representatives sitting on many committees.

“It’s important that their time is paid for,” he added.

Speaking about the the HPV vaccine, the minister said he intends to announce a timeline in September on the rollout of a new HPV test as the primary screening test for cervical cancer.

He said HPV screening as a primary test will be introduced in the coming months.

Following the aftermath of the  CervicalCheck scandal, Harris announced that a new screening test would be rolled out in the autumn – but this has been delayed.

The accuracy of HPV testing is significantly higher than the current liquid based cytology testing, and is expected to result in fewer women receiving a false negative result.

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