I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 and 323 together.
As previously outlined to the Deputy, in response to a recommendation from Dr Gabriel Scally, the HSE has established an Expert Group to review clinical audit of interval cancers in the three cancer screening programmes. This work, which incorporates consideration of international best practice, is expected to be complete by the end of this year, following which the recommendations will be implemented.
In relation to the issue of funding private smear reviews, this matter remains under consideration. However, in that context it is important to again re-emphasise the limitations of cervical screening, and the fact that false negative results are an inherent part of any cervical screening programme. Cervical screening will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer and unfortunately some women will still develop cervical cancer despite regular screening. The HPV test is a more accurate testing mechanism than liquid-based cytology, which is the current testing mechanism. I have asked the HSE to introduce HPV testing as the primary screening method for the prevention of cervical cancer as soon as possible and have approved a draft project plan for the HPV primary screening project. Its use will result in fewer false negative results, though it is important to be clear they will continue to occur.