Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has said the expected timeline for screening services to resume isn’t quick enough and will result in hundreds of thousands of people not being screened.

Deputy Donnelly explained, “In its recent update the National Screening Services (NSS) said it expected to announce screening restart dates by the end of June and said that the phased reintroduction of services by end of summer was envisioned.

“This projected timeline means that hundreds of thousands of cancer screenings aren’t going to happen. How can the Minister express any satisfaction at that timeline when it will leave so many behind?

“This morning on radio the Clinical Director for BreastCheck said ‘We’re not in a position to give you any kind of indication as to when we hope full services will resume.’ She spoke of backlogs and the fact that it will take double the time to do half the work.

“Capacity can be built and that is exactly what it is going to take if we are to deal with the backlog and get services fully operational again. We need to see more mobile units across the country and mammography machines operational outside the traditional hours.

“In terms of CervicalCheck, GPs can now take smear tests again, so why can’t CervicalCheck recommence screening?

“For BowelCheck there is now a backlog of several months for care of people identified as being at high risk. The implication from the NSS seems to be that screening won’t reopen until this backlog of existing symptomatic cases are dealt with.

“So essentially the logic seems to be – because we can’t provide the post-screening care, we simply won’t screen you. Among many moral red flags that this raises it also takes away from patients the option of sourcing care from somewhere else, if they are identified as high risk.

“Cancer is a disease where time really is off the essence – the world class advanced screening service we have in this country recognises that. A delayed resumption of its services puts a lot of lives in danger,” he concluded.