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Waiting lists increase and recalls grow as Minister’s handling of smear tests a catastrophic failure - Louise O'Reilly TD

2 April, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that the Minister for Health’s handling of the provision of free out of cycle smear tests in the aftermath of the CervicalCheck scandal has been "a catastrophic failure as waiting lists for results continue increase and recalls grow."

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“In the aftermath of the CervicalCheck scandal all that should have been done to allay the fears of women across the State should have been done. That was the purpose of offering free out of cycle smear tests to women who wished to receive one.

“We said at the time that this was the correct decision, but we assumed that the Minister had established that the capacity existed to do this before the offer was made.

“Unfortunately, the delivery on this commitment has been nothing short of a catastrophic failure.

“Over the past number of months, we have witnessed a litany of blunders and mistakes by the Minister for Health, manifested in his inability ensure that the labs conducting the tests had the capacity and ability to deliver the results to women on time.

“Under the Minister’s watch waiting lists for results have grown month by month, thousands of women have been recalled for tests because samples expired due to delays.

"We have also had the revelation that private paying patients can get their results in a fraction of the time compared to public patients from the same labs.

“These delays and difficulties have been consistently flagged by the women themselves, by medical professionals, by politicians, and by the media.

"However, the Minister for Health appears to have done nothing to address the situation except dismiss solutions from others.

“Free out of cycle smear tests were ceased in December and yet the waiting lists and number of recalls continue to grow month on month – this is an absolutely ridiculous state of affairs.

“Women are living with the consequences of these failures and I know there are a lot of angry and concerned women out there.

“Since the first delays I called for additional capacity to be sourced to relieve the backlog of tests, preferably in Ireland, and while it is long overdue, the government have now said that they are sourcing extra capacity and that is to be welcomed.

“The Minister must now publish the quality assurance assessments they have carried out and give those women waiting a definite timeframe."

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