Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
Health Screening Programmes
620. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a petition by a person (details supplied) regarding cervical screening requesting immediate reinstatement of cervical smear testing; and if a commitment will be given to reinstate the cervical cancer screening as soon as possible. [11107/20]
Since COVID 19 was categorised as a national public health emergency the Health Service Executive (HSE) had to take measures to defer all non-urgent care to ensure staff and patient safety and to minimise the spread of COVID 19. In line with this the National Screening Service (NSS) had to take the very difficult decision to pause all four population screening programmes, including CervicalCheck. These measures were in alignment with the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET) recommendations which have as their goal to minimise the spread of COVID 19.
The HSE are currently planning the resumption of regular health services and are developing capacity planning for the ongoing delivery of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care and services side by side.
The NSS is participating in this national process, led jointly by the Chief Clinical Officer and the Chief Operations Officer in the HSE to restore services safely across all parts of the healthcare system. NSS Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline Mason Mohan, is NSS clinical representative on the HSE steering group which is ensuring a coordinated approach to the resumption of non-COVID related health services.
I am aware the correspondence the Deputy is referring to which has been received in my office. The resumption of screening is a priority for the NSS, it requires very careful planning to ensure that our population screening services can be delivered in a safe way. Screening will be re-introduced on a phased basis, with invitations for screening issued according to clinical prioritisation and taking the screening and treatment pathways into account. It is expected that restart dates for population screening will be announced by the end of June.