“Policy making by Tweet has become an unfortunate hallmark of the Minister and this Fine Gael government which is entirely obsessed with spin and social media.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today called on the Minister for Health to provide full details of official advice he received ahead of making a blanket offer of free repeat smear tests in the wake of the CervicalCheck scandal.

Deputy Shortall said:

“Only now are we learning that the Minister received contrary advice on this issue from the Chief Medical Officer and CervicalCheck’s former clinical director Dr Gráinne Flannelly. He also received representations from the National Association of GPs.

“The public deserves to know exactly how this information and advice was considered and by whom ahead of the Ministers’ public announcement on Twitter last April that all women could get free smear tests.”

Deputy Shortall added:

“The revelations from the CervicalCheck scandal and how it was handled provoked real fear and concern among women across the state. Instead of getting to grips with the issue, the Minister himself seems to have reacted with panic and to have made decisions that were not supported by expert advice.

“I’m calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to be upfront and publish the full details of the expert advice he received. Policy making by Tweet has become an unfortunate hallmark of the Minister and this Fine Gael government which is entirely obsessed with spin and social media.

“The mishandling of this crisis has added insult to injury. We now have a totally unacceptable situation where there is a backlog of 80,000 women awaiting test results. While the number one priority must be to clear the backlog, we also need to get to the bottom of the Minister’s decisions in the wake of the crisis erupting last April.”

ENDS

8th April 2019