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Conduct of Minister regarding CervicalCheck scandal again raises serious questions – O’Reilly

25 January, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the current situation regarding CervicalCheck raises more and more questions, especially in relation to the Minister Health.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“The last number of days and the drip feeding of information, the lack of clarity around timeframes, and the obfuscation over who knew what and when has had many similar hallmarks to the beginning of the CervicalCheck scandal.

“So far this week, we had the HSE confirming in one announcement that 1,000 smear test samples would have to be retested due to fact that the samples were being tested outside of the recommended time frame of 30 days, then in another announcement the HSE confirmed that there were 6,000 cases where smear tests would need to be retested.

“The core of the problem lies in that the government guaranteed free smear tests to all women without speaking to GPs or without ensuring the labs had the capacity to deliver on the increased load.

“On average, the service tests 230,000 smears each year. However, the extra tests added an extra 90,000 to 100,000. It appears that the Minister for Health made no effort to ensure extra capacity was added to deal with the 40% increase in the number of tests needing to be examined.

“The Minister should have been certain that the additional smear tests could be dealt with within the medically indicated timeframe; he should have liaised with the labs involved and he should have engaged with labs here as well to deliver the test results on time.

“We were told yesterday that the Minister knew about these delays since December, however, it appears he did not initiate a plan of action to alleviate the backlog or relay the delays to those affected. It really behoves the Minister to clarify when he knew about these issues and what he did.

“The Minister is due to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee next Wednesday regarding the overspend at the new National Children’s Hospital, I would implore Minister to Harris to also take some time on that day to address the Dáil/Health Committee on this situation.

“The reason I believe he should do this is because his conduct as Minister for Health regarding these latest developments again raises serious questions.” 

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