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Simon Harris confirms that all cancer screening services will resume by July

All screening services were cancelled in March when the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Image: PA

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said that all cancer screening services will resume by the end of the month.

The three screening services were cancelled in March when the Covid-19 pandemic began, which prompted concerns over the impact on people’s health.

Some experts said there was a risk of a jump in secondary deaths if some life-saving services are not reopened.

But today, Minister for Health Simon Harris said the the BreastCheck, BowelCheck and CervicalCheck programmes were finalising their plans to do so. 

“I am satisfied that we are really getting to a point now where the screening programme is able to say that by the end of this month, restart dates for each of the four programmes will be announced,” he told the Dáil.

“And also that screening is expected to have begun on a phased reintroduction by the end of the summer.

Harris confirmed that CervicalCheck would be the first service to restart, followed by BreastCheck and then BowelScreen.

“There’s a lot of work going on to modify screening units, and this has to be completed before the restart, along with a final analysis on the effects of the Covid-19 measures on the pace and through-put of the screening cohort,” he said.

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“So screening invitations will then be issued on a phased basis according to clinical prioritisation.”

Earlier this week, CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan called for Ireland’s screening services to resume, saying any delay will cost lives.

“It will cost lives because by the time people who have symptoms go to their GP and present with symptoms then screening doesn’t work because they already have abnormalities and more than likely, are at the early stages of cancer,” she said.

With reporting from Press Association. 

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