HSE outlines advice and support for women concerned about CervicalCheck tests

Information for women who are concerned about their smear test results can be found here.

CervicalCheck Audit 2018

This week women in Ireland have been understandably worried following revelations about the CervicalCheck audit. The HSE and the National Screening Service are working to respond to this evolving situation and to allay the concerns of women about cervical screening.

The clinical advice is that women who have had normal test results in the past should continue to participate in the cervical screening programme according to their normal schedule.  The HSE is assured that despite the failings in communication during the CervicalCheck audit, the cervical screening programme is safe and effective and that the quality of the labatory testing carried out by the programme is as it should be.  While this is our advice, people are welcome to avail of a further screening test if they so wish.

CervicalCheck opened an information line last Saturday April 28th. To date over 7,500 calls have been received.  These calls are from women who have used the CervicalCheck service in the past and are concerned about the quality and safety of their tests.  A smaller proportion of calls are from women who have previously been diagnosed with cancer, who may have been part of the audit process.

The phone lines have been extremely busy, and the priority for call backs is women with specific clinical queries or a history of cervical cancer. 

Here is the advice being given to women with normal test results:

For women with normal CervicalCheck test results:

1.     We are assured that the cervical screening programme is safe and effective, and you can continue your normal schedule of tests. Please review the information on cervicalcheck.ie.

2.     If you are still worried, please contact your GP or smear-taker and discuss your concerns.

3.     If you or your GP remain concerned, you can access a free CervicalCheck test from your GP or smear-taker.

Similarly, here is our advice for people who have a history of treatment or assessment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer:

For women who are currently attending a colposcopy clinic, or have done so in the past:

1.     Please review the information on cervicalcheck.ie or call our information line on 1800 45 45 55

2.     If you are still worried, please contact your colposcopy clinic

3.     If you were discharged from a colposcopy clinic in the past, and are not currently in treatment, you can access a free CervicalCheck test from your GP or smear-taker.

For women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer:

1.     Please call our information line on 1800 45 45 55

2.     Our clinical team will be returning calls as a priority

3.     Please review the information on cervicalcheck.ie and we will return your call as soon as possible

We sincerely apologise again for the distress caused by this situation, and for the time taken to respond to the large number of queries we have received.

The National Screening Service has this week communicated with GPs and smear-takers working on health facilities nationwide, and provided them with an update on the situation online and by post, along with advice the options available to women.  We have sought the support of GP representatives and GPs working all over the country in beginning to rebuild trust in the cervical screening programme in Ireland. 

We have also sent information to staff in hospital Colposcopy Clinics around the country, asking that they also provide support to the women in their care.

CervicalCheck is a safe service that has been proven to save women’s lives, and we urge all women to continue to avail of routine smear checks to protect their health. 

  • Over 3 million cervical screening tests have been performed in Ireland since 2008, and over 50,000 cases of pre-cancer and cancer have been detected and treated following cervical screening.
  • CervicalCheck tests are processed in three laboratories, 2 in the USA and one in Ireland. All these laboratories have ISO accreditation and meet the standards required under their contract.
  • No screening programme is 100% effective and it is internationally recognised that all screening has a margin of error. This is why women are called at regular intervals.
  • Ireland is moving to a new type of cervical screening test for HPV virus later in 2018, which will be more accurate than the current smear test.
  • Getting the HPV vaccine and attending for cervical screening tests when called are critical to protect women and girls against cervical cancer.

We are committed to sharing information and to letting people know what’s happening now and what will happen next regarding CervicalCheck. Information about the CervicalCheck audit, and advice for anyone concerned, is being updated daily on cervicalcheck.ie. 

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Last updated on: 03 / 05 / 2018