News and Views

Farewell to a ‘formidable warrior’

2 Jan 2019
Dr Adrienne Cullen pictured with her husband Peter at her honorary conferring ceremony at UCC. Photo: Provision.

University College Cork wishes to extend its deepest sympathy to the family of Adrienne Cullen, who died on Monday in the Netherlands.

Adrienne (58) became a “formidable warrior” in pursuit of transparency in hospital care, after she was left with terminal cervical cancer arising out of medical negligence in the Netherlands. On December 10 she was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) by University College Cork (UCC).

The President of UCC, Professor Patrick O’Shea stated “We are saddened at the passing of Dr Adrienne Cullen, just three weeks after we welcomed her home to her UCC family. Her bravery, her conviction, her perseverance, her resilience her compassion, and her quiet, respectful pursuit of honesty, transparency and accountability exemplify the very best qualities any of us could hope to possess when facing such difficulty and tragedy. She used the most challenging of circumstances as a catalyst for change to improve the policy of open disclosure in cases of medical harm for others.”

Adrienne, who was a UCC Sociology and Philosophy graduate, successfully took on the Dutch health system and campaigned for a no-gagging clause policy in medical facilities across Europe.

Adrienne was a UCC student when she met her husband Peter, at the UCC Film Society where Federico Fellini’s film, La Dolce Vita, was showing.

Speaking to UCC at the time of her conferral Adrienne stated, “Silence and denial have no place. It’s only when patients and their doctors stand together that change happens.” The Open Disclosure protocols that Adrienne campaigned for have already been adopted by seven other hospitals in the Netherlands.

Speaking to RTÉ about her recent visit to Cork University Maternal Hospital, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at CUMH, John Higgins stated that “everyone who met her was touched by her courage...she was an inspirational lady.”

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