The Health Minister has come under fire for “failing to allocate the necessary resources” to the CervicalCheck programme to cope with a surge in demand, according to a local TD.
Women are now waiting up to 20 weeks for the results of their smear tests, according to Fianna Fáil's Deputy Niamh Smyth. In Cavan and Monaghan, the majority are waiting three to four months for their results, she claims.
Deputy Smyth said, “The latest information released to Fianna Fáil from the National Screening Service reveals that there are “significant delays” in the reporting of results, with waits of up to 20 weeks and longer.
“In fact there have been more than 100 cases where the smears have been out of date because the time between them being taken in the first instance to the time when they were being seen in the lab was too long.
“I have been contacted by constituents who went for their smears back in September and are still waiting for the results. Given the anxiety that many women experienced in the aftermath of the CervicalCheck controversy last year, the ongoing delays in the system is further eroding confidence.
Deputy Smyth laid the blame for the delays at the door of Minister Harris, claiming he should have recruited sufficient staff to ensure results were provided in a timely fashion.
“I am particularly concerned by the fact that it was well known back in August that there were severe delays in not only accessing a smear test, but also with the results, however it has taken until January for the HSE to undertake additional recruitment. This should have happened months ago when the delays first emerged.
“While I believe Minister Harris was right to offer repeat smear tests to women who had genuine concerns following the CervicalCheck controversy, he should also have ensured that the necessary resources were made available to cater for the demand. The delays that women have been experiencing over the past number of months are unacceptable.
“The Minister needs to act now to ensure that this recruitment process is swift and that the necessary staff are appointed and put in place as quickly as possible.”