Smear Test Backlog Delay Appalling
Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has criticised the Minister for Health Simon Harris for not ensuring additional resources were forthcoming in conjunction with provision of repeat smears.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“When the Cervical Check scandal broke some months ago, one of the main promises made by the Minister for Health Simon Harris was that any woman who was worried about their smear test could have a repeat test.
“While this was the correct approach there also needed to be additional resources provided to deal with the increased volume of women looking for a smear test.
“Unfortunately, this has not been the case and the result has been that a backlog has developed due to so many worried women availing of the repeat testing service and with all those women who were scheduled for their annual smear test.
“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 released to the media have shown that the number of tests in July of this year has jumped to more than 27,200.
Any fool could see 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 any increased resources.
“The result of that 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 personal 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.”