CervicalCheck screenings need to resume "urgently," says Well Woman Centre
"We are deeply concerned..."
Dublin's Well Woman Centre have called on the government to resume CervicalCheck screenings "urgently."
Smear tests for cervical cancer have been, along with other screening services, paused since March since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
The DWWC are asking the government to provide a date on which CervicalCheck screenings will resume. The centre resumed their own smear testing on May 18 with an understanding that the national screening programme would re-start effectively.
A resume date has yet to be announced.
“In April, DWWC wrote to the Minister for Health, and to CervicalCheck, to express our concern over the adverse health outcomes that could arise for women from putting on hold the national cervical screening programme," said Well Woman Chief Executive, Alison Begas.
"We are advocates for women’s health, we know that screening saves lives, and the screening programme needs to resume as a matter of priority."
The DWWC resumed smear testing in early May as part of a ‘pilot’ to enable CervicalCheck to test their new HPV test pathway. DWWC said they issued over 950 invitation letters to patients on May 15 and have been carrying out smear tests in its three Dublin clinics since then.
Dr Shirley McQuade, Well Woman’s Medical Director, said that the clinics have experienced "growing numbers of women contacting us in recent weeks, anxious to arrange their smear appointment."
“We are deeply concerned over the adverse health impact on women of the ongoing suspension of cervical screening nationally," she said.
"We are pleased to be working with CervicalCheck in helping get the cervical screening programme up and running again, but a date for a national roll-out is urgently required.
“Based on our clinical experience, we know that women are proactive and take seriously the importance of scheduling regular smear tests. It is also the case that many women held off attending for their routine test in Quarter 1 of 2020, as they knew a more accurate testing methodology would be rolled out at the end of March.”
CervicalCheck announced plans to move to a more accurate HPV-based analysis of samples earlier this year. This was due to commence on March 30, but the programme was paused due to Covid-19.