CervicalCheck helpline fails to call back 75% of people

Cervical cancer cells. File image.

The HSE helpline set up to reassure women with cervical cancer concerns failed to respond to three-quarters of callers as of yesterday.

In the 10 days since the CervicalCheck helpline was established, fewer than 2,000 of the 7,500 who requested callbacks had been contacted. Almost 11,000 people have called the helpline.

Damian McCallion, overseeing the national cervical cancer screening service, apologised “for taking so long”. He said they are prioritising women with specific clinical queries or a history of cervical cancer.

“We are certainly sorry that it has taken so long to get back to the many women that called us over the last week understandably following the difficulties as a result of the audit,” he said.

Mr McCallion said they are working on increasing the numbers operating the helpline and hope to get back to most of the callers in the coming week, running into next weekend.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr McCallion was also asked whether there was any data available to illustrate the accuracy of smear test results from the laboratories it uses to process smears.

He said the HSE has published data on its website which shows that “the trends are consistent, which indicates a high quality across all labs that are in line with international standards”.

The labs are identified only as ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ so it is not possible to say which results each lab has produced.

Between 2013 and 2016, some 884,000 tests were processed, of which 868,000 were deemed satisfactory.

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