Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly has expressed his deep disappointment at the treatment of patient advocate Sharon Butler Hughes, who has announced her resignation from the McCraith Review.

Ms Butler Hughes is the third patient advocate in two months to leave high profile positions within the health services.

“This resignation, coming so soon after Lorraine Walsh resigned from Cervical Check in December and Mark Molloy resigned from the HSE Board, raises grave questions about the treatment of patient advocates within the system,” said Deputy Donnelly.

“Sharon Butler Hughes fought bravely to uncover serious flaws within CervicalCheck. The fact that she has been consistently mistreated to the extent that she now feels she has no option but to withdraw entirely is just shameful.

“If we are to truly reform the health service to ensure that the kind of gross failures we saw in Cervical Check and maternity care never happen again, we need the input of patient advocates like Sharon, Lorraine and Mark who add an invaluable perspective to the process.   We need to encourage, support and appreciate their involvement.

“I believe we need to introduce a proper structure for patient advocates working within the health service.  This needs to be led by the Health Minister so that patient advocates can be assured of the support they deserve at the highest level.  The fact that three patient advocates feel forced into stepping down, shows that the Health Minister Simon Harris has, at best, been completely detached from the process.”