Alan Kelly: HSE must honour smear test results pledge

Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly has called on the HSE to honour its commitment to women who underwent a repeat smear test that they would have results back in four to six weeks.

Alan Kelly: HSE must honour smear test results pledge

Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly has called on the HSE to honour its commitment to women who underwent a repeat smear test that they would have results back in four to six weeks.

It has emerged that Quest, the US laboratory used by the national screening programme CervicalCheck, has re-checked just 7% (c200) of re-submitted smears.

Around 2,370 women are still waiting for repeat test results.

At the end of January, CervicalCheck wrote to 4,459 women inviting them to have a repeat smear, promising priority testing.

Minutes from the February meeting of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee say Quest had committed to a four-week turnaround time on the results.

The minutes also caution that “some women may have contracted a HPV infection in the time since their original test, and there will be a need for careful communication in this regard”.

Issues around communication are referenced a number of times in the minutes, particularly how the knowledge that HPV tests were carried out outside the 30-day recommended timeframe by Quest Diagnostics got into the public domain.

File photo.

File photo.

The minutes say this “expiration became public knowledge before it had been officially announced by the Department or the HSE” but that the planning which had previously gone into communications on this issue “allowed for a rapid response to be provided, with a focus on providing information to those affected”.

The minutes say there were discussions in relation to the provision of education for GPs, practice nurses, and other smear-takers in relation to the HPV expiration issue.

“It was noted that there is still a lack of understanding about what actually happened and that there is a need to support GPs in providing clear information to women,” the minutes say.

In a statement, the HSE/CervicalCheck said Quest IT systems for dealing with the repeat tests took longer than expected. Minutes of the steering committee meeting say: “Some changes to IT systems were required to allow for the processing of HPV tests performed in co-testing.”

The HSE said: “Quest are confident that the remaining results will be reported to women within the next two weeks.”

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