HSE Statement - CervicalCheck

HSE Statement: Friday, July 12th 2019

The HSE and CervicalCheck are responding to an issue within our screening service, where one of Quest Diagnostics’ laboratories based at Chantilly in Virginia, USA, have delayed issuing cervical screening results to some women and their GPs, due to IT problems in how result letters were electronically triggered. 

The Quest Diagnostics Chantilly facility currently only performs HPV testing for CervicalCheck, which is just one part of the overall cervical screening test process.  The current problem appears to primarily affect approximately 800 women who were having HPV tests rechecked, dating from late 2018 until June 2019.

We are also aware of a very small number of people affected outside of this recheck group and are following up on those cases as part of our response.

Dr Colm Henry, HSE Chief Clinical Officer said today, ‘The HSE and CervicalCheck are concerned about this incident and we are working with Quest Diagnostics to add to what is known to date and to fully investigate this issue, with a focus on patient safety and providing information to people affected as soon as it is available.’‘Any delay and inefficiency in the cervical screening service is hugely disappointing for the women involved and for our service, and we apologise to everyone involved and commit to keeping them all informed.’

Dr Peter McKenna, Clinical Director of the Women and Infants’ Health Programme said today, ‘This incident is being investigated at the highest level, and CervicalCheck are keeping the people known to be affected informed as a priority.  This includes investigating with Quest Diagnostics whether any more of our patients have been affected by this. More information in this regard is being urgently requested by the HSE and CervicalCheck.’

Of the approximately 350,000 tests CervicalCheck will process in this 12-month period, the information available relates to approximately 800 people. The women known to be affected by this delay were contacted on July 1st, asking them to contact their GP to get their results.

Within this group, any women whose results recommended follow-up, and their GPs, were already given those results in February 2019. The current information relates to completing results for those who have no follow-up required.

CervicalCheck yesterday instructed Quest Diagnostics to immediately despatch all outstanding results from this group to their GPs.  This means that the people affected should either have their results already from their GP, or will be able to get them in the next day or so. CervicalCheck will also follow up with all those people again this week and next week, keeping them informed.

Dr Colm Henry said, ‘We are disappointed to see this issue arise, and we appreciate that the people affected have already experienced long delays with getting their results from the screening service. Getting cervical screening services back online within normal operating times and processes in an ongoing challenge, but we continue to work on rebuilding the cervical screening service in Ireland.’


Issued by HSE National Press Office

Tel: 01 92 139 12press@hse.ie

Last updated on: 12 / 07 / 2019