Women urged to attend cervical screening appointments as fears mount over possible pause if Covid-19 restrictions are ramped up

Women urged to attend cervical screening appointments as fears mount over possible pause if Covid-19 restrictions are ramped up

Dr Noirin Russell, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

WOMEN have been urged to attend for cervical screening appointments when requested amid concerns that screening could pause if Covid-19 restrictions are increased.

Like many health services, CervicalCheck was forced to pause between late March and early July as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since service resumed on July 6, around 100,000 letters asking people to book their test have been issued by CervicalCheck, with new patients and those waiting the longest for testing prioritised.

However, just 13,000 of those contacted have attended for screening, leading to concerns within CervicalCheck.

Nóirín Russell, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and newly appointed clinical director of CervicalCheck, said the plan is to keep screening at present.

Dr Russell said there are concerns screening will pause if restrictions are increased in the coming weeks or months, amid increased Covid-19 cases.

“Women with screening invites should go to their GP and get screened,” she said.

Dr Russell emphasised the importance of women attending for cervical screening.

“Women are not coming for cervical screening when invited, and we in CervicalCheck are worried,” she said.

“I want to reassure women that their GP clinics are adhering to the Covid-safe principles of physical distancing, PPE, and hand hygiene. I am confident they will be safe when they come for screening, and they should be confident too.

“Women will also be aware from their invite letter that when they come for screening, we have changed to a new test, called HPV cervical screening. I would like to reassure women that the way their sample is taken under HPV cervical screening is exactly the same as it was before; it is how that sample is tested in the laboratory which is different.”

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