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Dublin Mid West Representative Joanne Corcoran - Motion 190

18 February, 2006

Free and efficient cancer screening must be a priority.

Sinn Féin Candidate for Dublin Mid West Joanne Corcoran speaking during the health debate said:

Over 60 women die from cervical cancer every year in this state.

Nearly 70% of these women die because they have not had routine smear tests.

A recent report published in the British Journal of Cancer revealed that death rates from cervical cancer in the 26 Counties exceed those in all of Britain and the Six Counties. We have, in fact, one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Europe. Now, we know that cancer screening saves lives, yet faced with these stark and terrifying figures, the Government has still not implemented a free and efficient state-wide screening programme.

It has already been established that since screening was introduced in Britain, 1,000 lives have been saved each year. But, not only is this Government not working to roll out a free screening programme that would save lives, it is actually taking away existing services.

Two clinics in Clondalkin and Ballyfermot, which provided smear tests for a nominal fee, have had their services suspended. One of those clinics, in Clondalkin, is just five minutes away from PD Minister for Health Mary Harney's constituency office. She claims she was not aware the service had been suspended.

Women who would have used these clinics are now being asked to visit their local GPs at a cost of up to €65 for the test, the results of which they are then forced to wait ridiculous time periods for.

Given that cervical cancer appears to be more prevalent in working class areas, surely this is completely counterproductive? The Government's abject failure is noticeable in that private companies are now trying to seize on the gap in the market and sell women private home-screening tests. These are valued at €85 each. Taking into account Mary Harney's complete lack of interest in the public health system, perhaps this was her plan from the start.

Last year I had a baby. I was told to make sure I was tested within six months. I did, at a cost of €70. Three and a half months later, I am still waiting for the results of that test to come back. This Government has failed me. It has failed every woman who has to pay exorbitant fees for health care. And by its policy of wealth before health, it is letting women die unnecessarily from cancers, which could easily be caught.

Please support motion 190 in the clár, and every motion that calls for this Government to implement a free and efficient healthcare system.

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