6,000 Irish women may have to re-do their smear tests, the HSE confirms

Approximately 6,000 Irish women may have to repeat their smear tests, following a delay in analysing their original samples.

The Health Service Executive has confirmed that, while the test results are still effective (and therefore still likely to be accurate), they are arranging for women to re-do the test just in case.

Why the delay?

Since the cervical check scandal came to light last year, there has been a huge increase in women seeking smears. Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Thursday, journalist Mary Regan said, "the number of people getting smear tests rose from around 250,000 on previous years to 350,000, so there was a huge demand on the service.

Related: 'Do not ignore this': Vicky Phelan urges
women to listen to their bodies

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"As a result," she continued, "there have been some backlogs. Women are waiting a long time for their results."

Worryingly, Fianna Fáil minister Micheal Martin said the government's decision to offer everyone free smears has "compromised" the national screening service, to the extent that "some tests are rendered invalid". He went on to describe the situation as a "crisis".

What now?

Damien McCallion, interim national director of the National Screening Service, said they first learned of the backlog in November, and that an expert clinical team was brought together to review the situation.

Related: Vicky Phelan to release a memoir in
autumn 2019 

He added all women who will need to re-do their smear test will be contacted by the end of the week; insisting CervicalCheck is “committed to communicating openly with women”.

For more information on booking your smear, visit CervicalCheck.ie.

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