Sinn Féin and Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has said he was extremely concerned at the continued postponement of smear testing across the state and said the delay is causing significant worry for many women and their families.

Teachta Crowe said that early intervention and identification of cancer was vital and lifesaving and, while he accepted that the HSE’s focus was on the COVID 19-pandemic, other lifesaving elements of the health service should not be neglected during the crisis.

Teachta Crowe said:

“It is understandable that certain healthcare elements have had to be postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is extremely worrying that smear tests, even in emergency cases, are still being postponed with still no plan in place for a resumption of the service.

“I know that some of the women who have contacted my office say they have now had their tests postponed for months now with no idea as to when they will be rescheduled and carried out.

“We know that timely intervention is critical when it comes to healthcare and particularly when it comes to screening for cancer.

“A HSE official addressing the new COVID-19 Committee in the Dáil this week was unable to say when the screening service would resume. This is extremely worrying and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“While I agree that measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are necessarily ongoing, the reduction in the lock down should mean this type of lifesaving screening should be resumed or certainly planned for.

“That doesn’t seem to be happening going by the HSE’s responses to the COVID-19 Committee.

“Women want a pathway or some at least some indication as to when they will have their smear tests carried out, especially for those in high risk categories or those who have had symptoms of possible cervical cancer.

“I accept that the HSE have been working flat out with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not acceptable that other lifesaving elements of our health service should be put on the long finger without anyone working on a plan for resumption.”