Breast Screening
Cervical Screening
Bowel Screening
Diabetic Retina Screening

National Screening Service update

- 30 September 2021

Despite the many restrictions COVID-19 has placed on our operations, today, we are successfully achieving the maximum invitation rate that is compatible with a safe and controlled follow-up assessment, and our treatment capacity within the health service.

In line with screening programmes internationally, we are focused on 'restarting' our participants' screening journeys, while continuing to remain cognisant of the capacity pressures across the whole of the health services.


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.

Our media campaign during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October highlights key details for about screening during Covid-19, breast cancer prevention and symptom awareness. For details and to share our messages, please see our partner pack attached.


Turnaround times

CervicalCheck is up to date with invites for screening. We have increased our testing capacity and are monitoring this carefully. Screening samples continue to be processed as normal. The turnaround time for test results is now 6 to 8 weeks, reduced from 8 to 10 weeks earlier this year.

Expired samples

In July 2021 we reported that a number of samples had expired in our sample processing centre before they could be fully tested, due to an unprecedented volume of tests taken at that time.

We have now contacted all of the 135 people affected by this issue, and their GPs. We have asked them to return to have a repeat test taken three months after their first test was taken. We are fasttracking these repeat samples.

Many of the 135 people affected have now returned for their repeat test. We are continuing to monitor the attendance of those who are yet to return for a repeat test, and to identify measures to minimise the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future.

We thank our sample takers for continuing to maintain normal levels of screening in the community, and for not putting on extra clinics at this time. This will ensure all people’s tests can be processed in a timely manner.

LGBT report launch

The attitudes of healthcare professionals and fear of the screening test itself are the main barriers for people in the LGBT+ community to attending screening, according to a new study from the National Screening Service (NSS).

The LGBT+ Cervical Screening Study was launched by the NSS on September 13, 2021, in partnership with LINC - a non-governmental organisation working with lesbian and bisexual women and their families, and CervicalCheck – the national cervical screening programme.

The study examines the knowledge of; attitudes towards; participation in; and experiences of cervical screening in Ireland. It was open to lesbian and bisexual women, trans men, non-binary, and intersex people.

You can review the report here


BowelScreen is also inviting for screening at reduced capacity due to the impact of COVID-19. All BowelScreen units are scheduling screening colonoscopies. BowelScreen continues to monitor colonoscopy capacity closely; invitations to participate will be issued relative to each unit’s capacity.

Diabetic RetinaScreen

Diabetic RetinaScreen continues to report a high attendance rate for screening. We have completed the COVID backlog for those awaiting a screening appointment.

  • All clinics are continuing to screen.
  • All systems have been reinstated after the cyber-attack on the HSE.
  • 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. 
  • We are expanding digital surveillance screening in the community. Participants will be invited to attend this clinic two times a year. Clinics are usually in an existing screening location. The surveillance clinic will take a specialised scan of the eye called optical coherence tomography (OCT). This scan helps find out if further investigation or treatment is needed. If this is not needed, patients will continue with surveillance screening in the community.

Update on ordering your screening service resources from

All Health Promotion accounts are inactive due to the cyber-attack on the HSE. A new process for ordering screening service resources is now in place. This process can be used while we work to restore the website function in the wake of the HSE cyber-attack. To order your screening health resources please contact: 

If you have ordered a resource you have not yet received, please e-mail along with your full contact details, Eircode and quantity requested.


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