Almost €10m spent on smear test re-checks, Harris confirms

Almost €10m spent on smear test re-checks, Harris confirms

The Government spent just under €10m on ensuring that women received smear test re-checks in the aftermath of the cervical cancer crisis.

The Department of Health confirmed the figure to TDs on Thursday morning, saying the €9.6m cost included €5.4m on consultations, €2.9m on reports and a further €1.3m on cytology services.

In a letter to the Dáil's public accounts committee, the Department's secretary general, Jim Breslin, said that between May 1 and December 31 last year, hundreds of thousands of women were given extra checks to ensure they did not have an undiagnosed cancer.

The decision was made after Heath Minister Simon Harris announced the additional service, and amid genuine public fears over the scale of the cervical cancer smear test errors.

In a final figure for the additional service, which has since ended, Mr Breslin said almost 200,000 women sought the extra help.

He said this led to an additional cost to the Department of €9.6m, including:

  • €5.4m on 111,000 consultations
  • €2.9m on 59,000 reports and reviews of cases
  • and €1.3m on extra cytology services

The decision to put in place extra supports for women to receive smear test re-checks has led to significant political criticism in recent weeks due to concerns over the way in which it was handled and the extra pressure it placed on the service.

However, the Government has insisted the decision needed to be taken due to the genuine public concerns over missed cervical cancer diagnoses around the country.

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