Coronavirus and screening programmes

The National Screening Service (NSS) screening programmes have been paused until further notice. This move was taken on public health advice due to the situation with Covid-19. The restarting of screening will be based on HSE and Department of Health guidance, as measures to prevent Covid-19 are amended by Government.

Screening programmes affected

The screening programmes that have been paused are:

Reasons for pausing screening

Screening has been paused in order to:

  • protect patients and staff by complying with social distancing guidelines
  • minimise the impact on essential HSE services as we respond to COVID-19
  • enable the HSE to redirect NSS staff and resources to the response to COVID-19.

Existing appointments and invitations

The National Screening Service has paused invitations and is cancelling all issued screening appointments. If you have been screened recently, follow-up appointments and results will continue to be processed. Lab testing capacity will be reviewed as the situation progresses.

For cervical screening, prompts and reminder letters are paused and GP (doctor) surgeries and other clinics are being asked not to take samples at this time. If you have already been referred to colposcopy or are being managed within the colposcopy system will continue to be cared for as hospital resources allow. We are aware that some colposcopy clinics are operating at a reduced level at present. If there are changes to your colposcopy appointment, you will be contacted directly by the clinic.

Bowel screening kits will not be issued at this time and colonoscopies have been deferred. Kits that are returned will continue to be tested. However, we are asking that unopened kits are kept unused until the programme is restarted.

For BreastCheck, assessments continue and women are still being treated, as hospital resources allow. Surgeries are continuing for a number of urgent cases, in line with hospital prioritisation. All women requiring surgery are being given details of their diagnosis and a care plan from their dedicated breast care nurse.

Diabetic RetinaScreen patients who have been referred to the ophthalmology department for assessment will only be invited at this time if the consultant thinks it is safe to do so.

Your appointment may be delayed until it is safe to invite you to attend ophthalmology. The hospital will do everything they can to ensure appointments are prioritised appropriately.

Follow-up clinics

Follow-up clinics are still being held where it is possible to do so and hospital resources allow. Clinics may not be available or may be limited due to coronavirus. If your appointment changes, the clinic will contact you.

If your clinic is operating, please do not attend your appointment if you:

Please phone the clinic to make another appointment. You should also phone the clinic if you would like to postpone your appointment at this time.

Re-starting screening

The decision to pause screening has been approved by each programme's Clinical Advisory Group. The screening programmes will be restarted as soon as it is agreed safe to do so. This will be based on evidence received on COVID-19. Each screening programme is being reviewed on a regular basis and a road map for restarting services is being put in place.

When screening programmes restart, cervical screening appointments can be rearranged with your GP or clinic. Paused follow-up hospital appointments will be rescheduled on a priority basis, and the programmes will begin issuing letters and sending out required kits.

What you can do

In between screening appointments, or when waiting for rescheduled appointments, it is important that you continue to be aware of and act on any symptoms associated with the conditions being screened for. Information on symptoms is available on our programme websites, which can be found by clicking on the symbols opposite. If you are concerned about symptoms, you should contact your GP.

For more information, please contact the NSS helpline on 1800 45 55 55 or email info@screeningservice.ie

For CervicalCheck please continue to check the register to see when your next screening test is due.