Minister must allay worries about cancer screening services – Butler

Published on: 05 June 2020

Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford, Mary Butler, has said the growing concern over access to cancer screening services must be dealt with immediately.

Deputy Butler said that having BreastCheck and CervicalCheck screening services suspended for over ten weeks has disproportionately affected women and is causing huge stress.

She called on the Minister for Health to clarify whether people who were tested prior to the suspension of cancer screening services in March and April have been receiving results in the interim period.

She explained, “I have consistently raised this matter with Minister Harris over the past number of weeks and yesterday he confirmed in the Dáil that screening services will report on their restart plans in the coming days.

“I sincerely hope that this will mean the immediate resumption of services with additional measures put in place to address the massive backlog.

“We know that early cancer diagnosis improves patient survival and quality of life. We know that delayed diagnosis leads to avoidable death.

“At the moment we have a situation where some women who were screened prior to COVID-19, still have not received results and are wondering whether their sample has expired and if they will need to be screened again. In other cases where anomalies were found, women have had to wait for a referral in the knowledge that there may be something wrong. I can only imagine how terrifying that is.

“Surely administering results of those who were tested prior to the pandemic should be the first step in resuming services.

“I have no doubt the decision to close these services at the beginning of this outbreak was the right decision. But we have thankfully avoided a situation where our acute hospital network has become overburdened and now, we need to get back to businesses,” she concluded.