Cervical screening: Senedd petition fast-tracked as millions voice concerns over smear tests
Senedd members could debate planned changes to the length of time between cervical screening tests sooner than expected after tens of thousands of people signed a petition.
The petition is being fast-tracked after the chair of the committee which considers calls from the public stepped in to speed its progress.
The change which was announced last week means a wait of five years rather than the current three for those aged between 25 and 50 providing no human papillomavirus (HPV) cells are detected.
Last week Public Health Wales apologised and admitted it hadn't "done enough" to explain the reasons for increasing the length of time between tests.
Health officials said the length of time between tests is being extended because of the success of more effective HPV testing.
However the announcement sparked concern and led to two petitions. One, on the website Change.org, has been signed more than a million times.
Another, on the Senedd petitions website, picked up thirty thousand signatures, three times the threshold which would normally lead to a debate in the chamber.
The chair of the Senedd committee, Jack Sargeant, asked officials to approach the petition organiser to ask them to close it, allowing several stages of the usual procedure to be gone through.
He says it will likely be the quickest petition to be debated in the history of the Welsh parliament.
“Upon taking over as Chair last year I made a promise to the people of Wales - their priorities would be my priorities as this is their committee. These petitions have demonstrated a huge thirst for answers, and it is my intention to enable a debate now rather than wait. It is in everyone’s interest that this issue is aired.” “It will give Members, the petitioner and Public Health Wales the chance to put their pointof view across.”
“I was disappointed at the way this was announced on Twitter and thank Public HealthWales for their apology. Now is the time to discuss this issue properly and get all theinformation on the table.” “I understand people’s concerns and their desire for answers and that is why I am steppingin to get answers.”