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Minister must act to stop HSE foot-dragging over release of CervicalCheck smears

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today called on the Minister for Health to intervene to compel the HSE to release smear slides to women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy so they can be independently reviewed.

Deputy Shortall accused the HSE of deliberately delaying the release of the slides for review by independent cytologists by holding up a crucial protocol for their release.

Deputy Shortall said:

“The lack of urgency being shown by the HSE in allowing women to get access to their smear tests is incredibly alarming. The only conclusion that we can draw at this stage is that the HSE is deliberately foot-dragging on this issue to impede women’s efforts to seek legal redress.

“Minister for Health Simon Harris must make it a top priority for the HSE to agree this important protocol with the labs holding the smears, as the women affected by this scandal do not have time to waste.

“I am also increasingly concerned that the scoping inquiry headed by Dr Gabriel Scally is being frustrated by its lack of access to the lab data it needs to fulfil its important mandate. Dr Scally’s inquiry has already faced difficulties in getting documentation in searchable formats.

“The data on the accuracy rates of screening by individual labs is the key information needed. Why is there a delay in making this available to Dr Scally? The Minister must step in to ensure there is no further delay in releasing this information.”