Almost 80,000 women waiting up to 27 weeks for smear test results – HSE

Oireachtas Health Committee to hear how HSE plans to address backlog

Anne O’Connor, HSE interim director general, will appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Wednesday morning. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Anne O’Connor, HSE interim director general, will appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Wednesday morning. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Women who have had smear tests are now waiting up to 27 weeks to receive the results, the interim head of the HSE will say on Wednesday.

The HSE last month said that some 82,000 women were waiting up to 20 weeks to receive their results.

Anne O’Connor, HSE interim director general, will appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee this morning and tell members there are now 78,000 women waiting up to 27 weeks to receive their smear test results.

“We remain concerned at the length of time being taken for reporting of cervical smears, which is on average at 93 days, although it can take up to 27 weeks for the report to be provided. There is currently a backlog of 78,000 slides,” she says in her opening statement to the committee.

‘Uptake’

“In 2018 around 370,000 women presented to the programme, an increase from 280,000 in 2017. This increase of 90,000 was as a result of the uptake of the out-of-cycle smear test and more women presenting to the programme, which would in normal circumstances be a positive step.”

Some of our existing providers have managed to reduce the wait times

Ms O’Connor’s statement outlines measures being taken by the HSE to address the backlog.

“We have worked with existing private providers, other private providers and public service providers in other countries to try and grow our laboratory capacity. Some of our existing providers have managed to reduce the wait times and we continue to work with others to try and find additional capacity,” her statement says.

Supports

She is also expected to outline how the HSE is providing a range of supports to women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy, including through the provision of 602 medical cards and the upgrading of eligibility for another 91 medical card holders, as well as the reimbursement of €1.2 million in expenses and costs to those affected.

The HSE will also address recent controversies around women who have not yet got access to their slides.

Ms O’Connor will say that 109 out of 118 slide requests have been dealt with in an average 25 days but there are nine still being processed.

The HSE will also commit to introducing HPV screening “as soon as possible”.