News & Media

Clinical implications of screening delays must be examined

19 April 2021

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services

Labour leader and health spokesperson has called on the Head of Screening and the Chief Clinical Office of the HSE to outline the clinical implications of the backlog in national cancer screening programmes. Deputy Kelly said it is incumbent that the State quickly catches up on missed targets to avoid any delayed diagnoses.

Deputy Kelly said:

“It’s very concerning to see a number of national cancer screening programmes miss targets for this year. We need clear advice now from the Head of Screening and the Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE on the clinical implications of the backlog and how log it will take to clear it.

“We are staring down the barrel of a huge crisis in health if we do not catch up on missed targets and encourage people to go to their screening appointments. 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.

“It’s incumbent on the Minister to act now and prevent any of these possibilities becoming a reality. 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.

"The Minister needs to communicate effectively with the public to ensure that those eligible for cancer screening are attending appointment. Screening programmes need proper resourcing in order to enhance early detection, save lives and ensure cost-effective treatment. As such, I am calling on the Minister to confirm if he is satisfied that all screening services are properly resourced to fulfil our duty to the public.

“We need to see a renewed focus on catch up programmes within our screening programmes. The National Screening Service must double down on ensuring that those who have received invites for screening in the last year but have yet to present for appointment are assured that screening is safe at this time.”