Simon Harris has been called to make a statement. 

A number of cervical smear tests carried out last year will have to be repeated as they have expired because of a backlog in the system, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil.

According to RTÉ, some women affected have been informed but more are yet to be told.

Amidst the controversy surrounding the CervicalCheck programme in 2018 – which saw over 200 women diagnosed with cervical cancer following original misdiagnoses – the Government announced in April that free smear tests were to be made available to every woman in the country.

Wednesday saw Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin tell the Dáil that this decision was made against the advice of experts and officials in the Department of Health - who warned Minister for Health Simon Harris that it would compromise the entire programme. 

According to Martin, this has resulted in enormous backlogs that have left women waiting more than six months for test results. He has called for Minister for Health Simon Harris to come before the Dáil to make an official statement on the matter. 

Due to the tardiness in getting back to people, some smear tests have been rendered invalid.

In response to this, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the free testing service was offered in good faith but accepted that the programme has experienced extreme backlogs as a result. 

Just last week, Limerick woman and CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan strongly criticised An Taoiseach over the Government's handling of the CervicalCheck scandal.

Speaking at an event in Limerick, the 43-year-old described the Taoiseach as "all talk and no action" and added that she did not get the sense from Leo Varadkar that he was treating the issue with sufficient importance.

The Cervical Check scandal, which was brought to light when terminally-ill mother-of-two Phelan was awarded €2.5 million in a High Court settlement against a laboratory based in Texas following a misdiagnosed smear test in 2011.

The media storm which surrounded the case caused HSE head Tony O'Brien to resign, following the emergence of a series of damning internal HSE memos and public pressure to do so. 

The Government estimates that the cost of a scheme to compensate women caught up in the CervicalCheck controversy for the non-disclosure of the results of a smear test audit could be between €5 million and €15 million.

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