Fianna Fáil T.D. for Mayo Lisa Chambers has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to urgently address the issue of waiting times for smear test results. In recent months the wait for results has jumped from 6 weeks to 20 weeks.
Deputy Chambers raised the issue directly with the Minister in the Dáil last week.
“In the wake of the CervicalCheck controversy, Minister Harris promised a repeat smear test to any woman in the country who was concerned about previous checks. However, he failed to allocate the necessary resources to accommodate this commitment and now women are waiting up to 20 weeks for smear test results that should be back in 5 or 6 weeks”, said Deputy Chambers.
“Many of the women who opted for a repeat smear had genuine concerns and were seeking reassurance, and instead of having those fears allayed, they are now waiting for months on end for the results of their new smear. I have spoken to women who say it’s something they think about every day.
“The issue is further compounded in the event of an abnormal smear; a shortage of histologists is resulting in another backlog in colposcopies, followed by another 18 month wait to see a gynaecologist if further treatment is needed. This is a major problem for the Minister, which is only going to get worse.
“No one is suggesting that the offer of additional smear tests was not made in good faith, however I take issue with the fact that the Minister did not resource the service properly or provide the necessary capacity to cope with the additional demand.
“Minister Harris needs to address the current wait time and capacity issue immediately; it is unacceptable to leave women waiting in limbo for up to 20 weeks to receive such an important test result,” she concluded.