Harris under pressure as thousands face repeat smear tests

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has criticised Minister of Health Simon Harris following delays in the cervical cancer screening program.

The HSE announced this morning that up to 6,000 women may need to undergo repeat cervical cancer tests. Many tests have not been carried out within the recommended 30 days of smears being taken.

Wicklow TD Simon Harris launched a free smear test in 2018 in the wake of the CervicalCheck scandal. The delay for test results now sits at 22 weeks.

Today Micheál Martin called for a “comprehensive explanation” from Simon Harris:

Yesterday, the Fianna Fáil leader had told the Dáil that delays in CervicalCheck smears were impacting the test’s quality and rendering them invalid.

In October, the CervicalCheck Project Team wrote to Harris asking him to end free smear rechecks because of additional pressure on the healthcare system.

On Saturday, Campaigner Vicky Phelan pinned blame on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, saying that he had broken promises to victims of the CervicalCheck Scandal. “He thinks that if he promises something, this will go away and that people are not going to follow through on it.”

Instead, she praised Simon Harris for his handling of the issue to date. “I think Simon Harris would make a great Taoiseach”.

“I think he has empathy and at the same time he’s honest. That’s what I think is lacking in some of our politicians.”

The CervicalCheck Scandal arose in 2018 when it emerged that 162 women, including Vicky Phelan, had developed cancer after receiving incorrect results from smear tests.

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