Questions need to be answered on prioritisation of at-risk women in CervicalCheck testing

25 January 2019

Vice-Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee and the Labour Party Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly TD, has said that HSE needs to answer questions on the prioritisation of at-risk women when it comes to smear testing.

This follows confirmation to Deputy Kelly back in early November that the labs carrying out smear test analysis could not distinguish between women getting smear tests regularly under medical advice and women who get routine smears every three years.

Deputy Kelly said:

“In early November at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, the Director of the HSE National Services, Damien Mc Callion, confirmed to me that women with more serious needs are not being prioritised in the labs where analysis of smears are being carried out.

“This poses a serious risk to women who have had abnormalities in their smears in the past and need to have additional smear tests carried out every year.

“Women who are at a higher risk and whose smears are caught in the backlog will be waiting up to twenty-two weeks to get a diagnosis and if required avail of additional medical intervention. This length of time is just not acceptable.

“Waiting for any test result to come back can be anxiety-inducing but if you are a woman who knows she is at risk and is waiting over five months for results, it can be extremely worrying. This delay in further diagnostics could potentially have further impact on a woman’s health. 

“This issue was first flagged in early November, now nearly three months later surely the HSE have come up with a way to overcome this challenge. And if they haven’t, why not?

“This week has shown us that there are still so many questions that remain unanswered when it comes to CervicalCheck. I’ll be writing to the Chairs of the PAC and the Health Committee to ensure that those who have answers are available to TDs. While it is understandable that the Minister for Health is not available at present, surely the Taoiseach or another senior Government minister is liaising with the HSE at this important time. 

“Women especially those at-risk, need answers, sooner rather than later.”

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