All outstanding CervicalCheck smear tests from Ireland will undergo an initial HPV test but initial further delays may be experienced as a result, it has been revealed.
It was revealed last month that the backlog in CervicalCheck stood at just under 80,000 with the average wait time for results at a record level of up to 33 weeks.
In a statement to The Echo, the HSE said it is acutely conscious of the length of time that many women have been waiting for their smear test results, which can be up to 33 weeks, and in some cases, longer.
The HSE also revealed that the overall number of outstanding smear tests is “steadily reducing” and that all outstanding tests will have an initial HPV test carried out.
However, the health service warned of “initial further delays” for women.
“This HPV testing model was chosen as the most effective way for the lab to process all outstanding tests based on prioritising women most at risk,” said a HSE spokesperson.
“While this model this may result in an initial further delay for women with negative HPV results, it will ultimately allow women with HPV positive results, who are considered most at risk, to be prioritised and for those women to receive necessary follow-up care,” the spokesperson added.
Any tests that report as HPV positive will be prioritised for cytology, as these women are considered to have the highest clinical needs, explained the health service.
Tests which report as HPV negative will have cytology performed as a second priority, as these women are considered to have lower clinical needs.
Cork man Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene passed away in 2017 from cervical cancer following two false negative tests in 2010 and 2013, said the backlog situation needs to be rectified.
“We are very sorry for these regrettable delays, which are due to the unprecedented demand on CervicalCheck’s laboratory services in 2018 following very understandable concerns about cervical screening,” said the HSE spokesperson.
“We hope that this process will provide reassurance to women whose outstanding tests are with MedLab Pathologies Ltd that we are doing our utmost to expedite these tests.
“Again we apologise sincerely for the delays experienced by women, which we acknowledge is causing considerable anxiety and concern.”