Breast Screening
Cervical Screening
Bowel Screening
Diabetic Retina Screening

National Screening Service update

– 30 July 2021


Routine screening appointments are continuing as normal.

COVID-19 has impacted all areas of our lives and screening is no exception. We have lost nearly a year of screening time. Appointments in this screening round (where we invite women for screening once every 2 years) are delayed by up to a year.

  • If you were due to be screened in 2020, we are aiming to invite you in 2021
  • If you were due to be screened in 2021, we will now aim to invite you in 2022

This means Ireland will be more in line with England, which screens women every 3 years. We aim to return to screening women every 2 years as soon as possible. This is dependent on the situation with COVID-19 and restrictions continuing to ease.

New text message appointment system has been implemented to maximise uptake. We are letting women know that we are screening those who have been waiting longest first, and asking them to partner with us to ensure every appointment slot is filled. We are continuing to investigate ways to increase our capacity.

Multilingual resources

We are in the process of updating our consent forms. They are available in the following languages; Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, English, Filipino, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak and Spanish.

If you think we are missing an important language, please contact us at


On 19 July 2021 we informed you that we were contacting women who were screened earlier this year to ask them to book a repeat sample three months after their first test was taken.

This was because their sample had expired at our Quest laboratory sample sorting centre before it could be processed fully.

The majority of people affected by the sample processing error have now been contacted. We have also contacted their GPs and asked that they encourage their patients to attend for screening. The repeat tests will be prioritised by our laboratories. Repeat tests will be marked as ‘priority’ and processed by our laboratories to deliver their results within 4 to 6 weeks after their repeat test is taken.

Women who have already received a screening test result this year and who have not been asked to book a repeat test in 3 months’ time are not affected.


BowelScreen is continuing to invite for screening, but at reduced capacity due to the impact of COVID-19 and the cyber attack.

BowelScreen continues to monitor colonoscopy capacity closely; invitations to participate will be issued relative to each unit’s capacity.

Our Public Health department has produced 11 new ‘easy-to-read’ leaflets for BowelScreen to help people who may have difficulty using our materials. The new resources include:

  • A resource explainer for carers/disability staff
  • two photo stories four plain English documents
  • one guide to support participation in bowel screening
  • one template for personalisation as requested by the disability sector.

The documents provide information that is concise and clear; and include photo stories that give a clear visual impression of what a programme participant can expect.

The new resources can be viewed on the BowelScreen website at: 

Diabetic RetinaScreen

Diabetic RetinaScreen continues to screen and report a high attendance rate for screening. We are continuing to invite participants awaiting appointments due to the pause in screening, while also inviting people who are due their screening test.

  • All clinics are continuing to screen. The cyber-attack on the HSE has affected some clinic bookings.
  • We continue to advise participants that COVID-19 is impacting the waiting time for follow-up appointments.
  • All urgent referrals are being prioritised.
  • We are working with hospital clinics to ensure all those who have an urgent referral are seen without undue delay. Those on routine referral may have to wait longer for their hospital appointment or have an appointment rescheduled.


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