Government must publish all advice given to Minister for Health on repeat smear testing offer

Fianna Fáil Frontbench Spokesperson, Lisa Chambers TD has called for the publication of all written advice given to the Minister for Health with regard to the offering of repeat smear tests last year

Deputy Chambers was commenting after it emerged last night that up to 6,000 smears tests have now gone out of date due to increased workloads in the laboratories.

“Additionally, I and Fianna Fáil are seeking confirmation of all verbal advice given to the Minister for Health. We need to get to the bottom of the decision-making process, and find out if the Minister and the Government acted contrary to expert advice.

“There have been repeated warnings since last summer about the potential for backlogs caused by increased workloads. What now must come into the public domain is why the secrecy from the Government as the HSE were informed by the laboratories last November that backlogs and delays would occur.

“It is now abundantly clear that the increased demand from the offer of repeat testing has put significant pressure on the systems and caused the backlogs we are now seeing. The end of result has been to see women called back for further screening due to their previous smears going out of date.

“Warnings surrounding the offer of universal repeat testing for any women concerned following the Cervical Check scandal last year were made by my party and by many medical professionals, yet the Heath Minister and the Taoiseach carried on regardless.

“The advice given to the Minister, either in written or verbal form, must be disclosed. I would have major concerns if the Minister or the Government chose to act in defiance of, or contrary to, expert advice.

“I really hope it’s not another case of a Fine Gael Minister choosing placating the media over doing the right thing,” concluded Chambers.