Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly TD has said the Minister for Health must immediately instruct the State Claims Agency to reverse its position that biopsies are not to be tested from consultant doctors who have not signed the temporary HSE contract.

Deputy Donnelly said, “It is outrageous and extremely dangerous for patients all over Ireland that the State would instruct histopathologists to not process biopsies sent in by some doctors. This could have potentially fatal consequences for patients.

“These biopsies are taken when treating clinicians have a suspicion of serious illness and disease in their patients. In particular, the current situation applies to patients with suspected cervical cancer and skin cancers. As such it is inevitable that not processing these biopsies could have the gravest of consequences for patients all over Ireland.

“There are many reasons why half of private consultants haven’t signed up to these A contracts. They have pointed to issues with the State insuring them and the costs of their work, including staff and offices, costing several times more than the salary being paid. But whatever the views of the State about this, the lives of patients are not a bargaining chip.

“This time last year we were in the middle of the cervical check crisis. It defies belief, given everything that was discussed, that the State would now act to stop biopsies being looked at which are for suspected cervical cancer. The same applies to all other patients, and the diseases these biopsies are testing for.

“The Minister for Health, and An Taoiseach if necessary, needs to step in immediately and ensure that all biopsies are processed,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.