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No capacity analysis conducted into whether smear tests results could be delivered on time – O’Reilly

13 February, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD said she finds it shocking that the Minister for Health conducted no capacity analysis into whether smear tests results could be delivered within the indicated timeframes.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“I am quite shocked at information given by officials from the Department of Health to the Oireachtas Health Committee this morning that no capacity analysis was conducted into the ability of the cervical check programme to examine and return results on smear tests once repeat smear tests had been announced by the Minister for Health.

“The right decision was to offer repeat smear tests to all women. However, the Minister for Health should have insured that the capacity was there to deliver on this offer.

“The result of this is that women who have had smear tests are now waiting up to 27 weeks to receive the results and that some 82,000 women were waiting up to 20 weeks to receive their results.

“The first actions of the Minister should have been to ensure that trust was rebuilt in the screening programme, that repeat smear tests would be made available to all women, and that the health service had the capacity to deliver on the increased number of tests.

“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.

“I do not accept the position of the Department of Health officials that it was impossible to quantify the uptake of repeat smear tests.

“A cursory look at Britain and an analysis of what is called the ‘Jade Goody effect’ where after the reality star died of cervical cancer in 2009, nearly 500,000 extra women turned up for smear tests with attendances reaching 70% higher than expected.

“We entrust the Minister for Health, the Department of Health, and the HSE to be able to respond appropriately and intelligently in these crises, however, it appears that in this instance the Minister just made pronouncements, but he didn’t follow it up with the necessary action.” 

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