It appears that the Government’s new cervical screening program, which was developed to replace the pap smear, will not be rolled out on May 1st as originally promised.
According to a federal health department communique from February 22 obtained by The Herald Sun, the new test has been delayed because its “safety net” would not be ready in time.
As the new cervical screening program only requires women to be tested every five years – as opposed to the pap smear’s two – pathology staff numbers have reportedly already been reduced in preparation. Women due for cervical screening in May onwards are now likely to experience delays in receiving their results.
The Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, MP Catherine King, says the Government has secretly “bungled” the rollout of new cervical and bowel cancer screening programs and have failed to tell the Australian people.
“It is absolutely appalling that the Turnbull Government has botched up something so important – a cervical screening test which will literally save the lives of women around the country,” King said in a press release.
“Only yesterday the Health Minister was talking up the importance of the new test – when was he going to have the decency to admit that he has completely stuffed this up?”
Ms King also expressed concern about the lack of information provided to both women and their general practitioners.
“It's only two months before the new test was due to commence and women and their GPs are being left in the dark because the Government hasn’t told them what is going on," Ms King said. "This is not okay."
“I am extremely concerned about the consequences of this delay for the health of women around the country... This delay could mean that women have to wait longer to get the results of critical pap smear tests, and or even worse, put off having tests altogether because of the confusion."
“The Prime Minister needs to front up and come clean with Australian women," she said.