Free Screening Programme Falls At First Hurdle

The recently announced free surgical tests has made a shaky start as it is revealed there will be several weeks wait for full access by those seeking the test.

It has emerged that women seeking the test will not yet be able to avail of full access or their choice of GP or nurse to carry out the test.

There is also reports that some GPs who have agreed to provide the service have yet to receive the necessary packs and equipment, with delays reaching nearly three weeks already.

Under the new scheme, which was launched on Monday, over one million women between 15 and 60 years old will be able to take free smear tests to tackle the high rate of cervical cancer in Ireland.

Fine Gael Health Spokesperson, Dr James Reilly TD said: "I am concerned that the launch of this long-awaited programme, which received wide coverage yesterday, may have been premature.

"The impression was given that patients could expect a free screening service from yesterday. This could undermine confidence in this welcome development at an early stage and CervicalCheck should offer reassurance that the programme is not already delayed by some weeks."

The news comes as another Fine Gael minister has appealed to the government to launch a free health check for all children starting school.

Fine Gael's education minister Brian Hayes said a free health check appointment for children starting school, delivered by their GP or practice nurse, would help encourage a "health habit" in young children and their parents.

"All scientific evidence points to the fact that early intervention is vital in terms of children with special needs meeting his or her full potential. Ideally special needs difficulties should be identified as early as possible, in children between two and three years of age," said Mr Hayes.


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