The Minister for Health Simon Harris is due back before the Oireachtas Health Committee tomorrow (Wed) to answer questions on his decision to offer free smear tests last year, in the wake of the Cervical Check controversy.

The Minister has come under political pressure over the past week, after it emerged that the former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly had warned against offering free tests, as she fears labs would not be able to cope.

It also emerged at the weekend that the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan - the Government most senior advisor on health issues - did not support free re-tests.

Almost 80,000 women across the country are now waiting up to 9 months to receive the results of their smear tests - among them is Mayo Fianna Fail TD Lisa Chambers, who's asking Minister Harris to apologise to all the women affected, and to outline when the backlog of tests will be cleared.

Deputy Chambers says it's almost a year since the free tests were offered, and extra capacity should have been sought then - rather than allowing the backlog to build.


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