Additional resources needed to clear smear test backlog – O’Reilly
Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has criticised the Minister for Health Simon Harris for not ensuring additional resources were forthcoming in conjunction with provision of repeat smears.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“When the CervicalCheck scandal broke some months ago, one of the central promises made by the Minister for Health was that any woman who was worried about their smear test could have a repeat test.
“While this was the correct thing to do, there needed to be additional resources provided to deal with the increased volume of smear tests.
“Unfortunately, this has not been the case and the result has been that a backlog has developed due to many availing of the repeat testing service in conjunction with those women who were scheduled for triennial smear testing.
“The scale of the jump in smear tests has been significant and there was no way that the provision of results within adequate timeframes could have been achieved without additional resources to deal with the increased volume.
“Figures in the Irish Times today have shown that the number of tests in July of this year has jumped to more than 27,200. You cannot have the number of tests jumping by over 8,500 compared to July of last year and expect the same timeframe for the provision of results without increased resources.
“The outworking of the backlog is that receiving results has gone from six-eight weeks to up to 13 weeks in some cases, while in others it has meant that the test samples have expired because they cannot be read by a laboratory if they are more than six weeks old.
“The provision of repeat smear tests means nothing if women cannot get their results in a timely manner or if their tests are expiring because of the backlog. The Minister should have ensured that additional resources were forthcoming when he announced that there would be provision of repeat smear testing.
“This situation has developed in the absence of that additional funding and Minister Harris now needs to take control of the situation and ensure that additional funding is provided as a matter of urgency as well as making plans for the redevelopment of laboratory testing services here.”