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40,000 letters from National Cervical Screening Programme returned due to wrong addresses – Ó Snodaigh

15 May, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has revealed that at least 40,000 letters from the National Cervical Screening Programme to women entitled to a free smear test have been returned unopened because they are wrongly addressed or that the women have moved. That means at least 40,000 women never received their letter of invites, and many thousands more letters were probably never returned to sender – the National Cervical Screening Programme.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to ensure that each and every woman entitled to a smear test is contacted and that the database is as accurate as possible. The volume of returned letters would suggest that the database is totally inaccurate.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

 “There are at least 40,000 letters that have been returned to the National Cervical Screening Programme in March and April of this year which should have been informing the women named on the letters of their entitlement to a free cervical smear test.  That means that there are possibly 40,000 women out there who have not been screened.

 “The Minister needs to take urgent action to ensure that each and every one of these women is contacted and informed of their entitlement to a test.  Obviously the database being used by the National Cervical Screening Programme needs to be updated urgently and the Minister must ensure that this happens.

“There are obviously questions as to how the database was put together and who was in charge of ensuring it was updated and maintained. And there is the question of €50,000 or so going to waste in posting inaccurately addressed letters of invites.

"These letters could be a matter of life or death for some women, in that they may prompt them to go for the free cervical cancer smear test. I would encourage all women to avail of this free test.” ENDS

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