News & Media

Plan needed to restart cancer screening

19 May 2020

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health

Labour Party Leader and Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly TD, has raised concerns about the future status of cancer screening.

This comes as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, said that he cancer screening won’t commence for the “foreseeable future”.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The comments made by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer today are extremely concerning.

“The fact that most public cancer screening such as BreastCheck and CervicalCheck have been suspended for over ten weeks is causing a great deal of stress, particularly among women.

“Firstly, I don’t believe that it is the call of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health as to when cancer screening can resume, this falls under the remit of the HSE under law. We need to hear directly from the HSE when they think these services will resume.

“The fact that there has been such a dramatic drop in numbers of cancer screening during the months of March, April and we can only presume during the month of May too, will have a profound impact on our health service.

“People will have delayed diagnoses that could have been treated sooner. People who will be diagnosed at a later date may need to have a more aggressive form of treatment because of the suspension of testing. We can’t have this continue for much longer.

“We don’t have to look back to far to know what happens when there is a major backlog in cancer screening. The CervicalCheck scandal is an example of the anxiety and fear that overcomes many of our citizens in the face of a screening backlog.

“We need a clear roadmap outlining when exactly screening will re-start, what the testing capacity will be and what the turnaround time of results will be.

“It is of vital importance that we get our health services back up and running as there is a real concern that preventable non-Covid related deaths will outnumber Covid related deaths. As per the Government’s roadmap, we need to see a plan that will see our health service kickstarted to be published this week.”