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Breast Screening
Cervical Screening
Bowel Screening
Diabetic Retina Screening

National Screening Service update

The third wave of COVID-19 is causing unprecedented levels of the virus within our community. Government and Public Health advice is that we greatly restrict our movements and limit the people with whom we interact, in order to supress the virus and sustain our essential services.

The safety of our participants and the staff who care for them continues to be our highest priority at this time. Safety precautions are in place throughout the health services to protect against the spread of COVID19 and screening services have implemented advised safety measures to reduce the risk of infection.

We are monitoring the situation carefully and will communicate any changes to participants via the COVID19 information sections on our websites.

Individual programme updates are given below:

BreastCheck

Whilst screening remains a safe procedure, we believe the risk to healthy women posed by current levels of COVID-19 in the community outweighs the benefits of routine breast screening. Therefore, BreastCheck is operating a reduced service at this time. We are closely monitoring our capacity to screen and reviewing our decision at local levels on a weekly basis and in accordance with government guidelines.

This means that:

  • Routine screening of well women is being delayed.
  • We will resume sending out appointments for routine screening when it is deemed safe to ask women to reattend.
  • We are continuing to operate follow-up clinics for women scheduled for further assessment.
  • Those for follow-up assessment should continue to attend on the date and time given.
  • We will be in touch with each participant to confirm or reschedule their appointment.
  • We know this is disappointing for women and undertake to continue routine screening in their area
  • as soon as it is safe to do so.

These actions are in line with government guidance on halting the spread of the virus in the community:

  • Screening involves carrying out mammograms on large numbers of healthy women who would be exposed to high levels of COVID-19 in the community.
  • A significant number of women attending BreastCheck are in the COVID-19 vulnerable age group.
  • Screening is only the first step in the BreastCheck pathway. Treating women with screen detected abnormalities involves many hospital departments, beds and theatre resources that are currently under pressure.
  • Hospitals are suspending or reducing routine activity to accommodate the COVID-19 surge.

We continue to emphasise to our participants that BreastCheck is a screening service for well women within the population age range and is not a symptomatic service. If a person has any concerns or symptoms concerning their breasts, we strongly encourage them to contact or attend their GP to ensure that they are given the appropriate advice/referral regarding a symptomatic clinic for breast symptoms, which are still in operation.

We will provide regular updates to our schedule changes on www.breastcheck.ie. Women can also contact us on info@breastcheck.ie or Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

CervicalCheck

CervicalCheck understands the pressure faced by those in general practice and community-based clinics at this time. We continue to offer our support to clinics making individual decisions about the level of screening that is safe for them to provide, as they adhere to government guidelines and Public Health advice about the spread of COVID-19.

We are aware that, as a result, GP practices and community clinics may not be able to offer cervical screening appointments, or may be operating at reduced capacity, in the short-term. 

  • We are therefore advising participants who are booked for screening that their sampletaker may reschedule their January appointment, and that their new test date may be some weeks away.
  • We are advising those seeking to book appointments that they may not be able to do so at this time.
  • We are asking them to keep in contact with their GP or clinic and rebook as soon as they can.
  • We will continue to keep in touch with sampletakers about screening, and to offer advice in line with HSE and NPHET recommendations.
  • We will update our website with any changes to screening, and provide participants with information on booking with alternative sampletakers in their area.

We continue to ask that people do not attend their appointment if they are unwell or self-isolating because they have symptoms of COVID-19. People should not attend either if they are a confirmed close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Cervical screening is for well people who do not have symptoms. Anyone who is worried about symptoms at any time is advised not to wait for screening but to contact their GP immediately, for appropriate follow-up care.

BowelScreen

BowelScreen is continuing screening at a reduced capacity and is continuing to work with providers and host hospitals as they make local decisions in regard to the level of follow-up screening procedures they can safely accommodate. BowelScreen continues to monitor colonoscopy capacity closely; invitations to participate will be issued to each unit based on their capacity.

From the 08 December 2020 BowelScreen is providing colonoscopies at University Hospital Waterford’s (UHW) endoscopy unit. UHW is one of the eight national cancer centres in Ireland. The hospital already provides histopathology and surgery services for the programme. The addition of endoscopy services will further help BowelScreen deliver vital services closer to where people live in the south-east.

Diabetic RetinaScreen

Diabetic RetinaScreen is continuing screening at a reduced capacity. We are working with providers and host hospitals as they also make local decisions in regard to the level of screening that is safe for them.

 

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