Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Ceisteanna (386)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

386. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21593/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In April 2018, following issues which had emerged in relation to the CervicalCheck screening programme, I made the decision to offer free out of cycle smears to any woman who was concerned about her health, where her GP felt she should have a further test as part of her reassurance.

Approximately 112,000 consultations were provided by GPs, and 57,810 early repeat smear tests were provided between the 01 May and 31 December – in other words, about half of the consultations resulted in a smear test.

Laboratory turnaround times have increased since that time as a consequence both of the 57,000 or so out of cycle smears and the increased uptake generally. The CervicalCheck programme has agreed with laboratories to prioritise those slides which originate from women who attended colposcopy, as this cohort of women are considered to have the most serious need. In addition, agreement has been reached with the laboratory with the largest backlog to process tests based on a HPV initial testing model; i.e. HPV testing will be carried out on samples prior to cytology. I am advised that this approach was chosen as the most effective way to process all outstanding tests based on prioritising women most at risk.

The HSE has advised that the natural history of cervical cancer would indicate that the disease would normally develop over a period of 10 to 15 years. It has said that in this context, a delay in the return of cervical screening results, whilst undesirable, is not necessarily dangerous and poses a very low risk to women.

In relation to the specific case referred to by the Deputy, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him.