Around 11,500 women have been affected by the out-of-date cervical screening testing problem, RTÉ News has established.

This is the first time that the scale of the out-of-date testing has been revealed, with 11,500 HPV tests involved.

Of this group, the Health Service Executive invited around 5,000 back for HPV re-checks.

The problem first arose in January after it was revealed that US laboratory Quest Diagnostics used an out-of-date test kit for HPV screening for the CervicalCheck screening programme.


Read more:
What is the CervicalCheck controversy about?


The decision to invite back this number was determined for several reasons, after HSE experts reviewed the issue.

The HSE said there was no reason for women who had tested positive on the original out-of-date test, to be rechecked.

Also, other women in the group were known to be in the health system having tests, or treatments.

As a result, 5,000 were asked back for retests.

Around 3,000 women availed of the offer. The HSE is unable to say how many of the 3,000 who returned for retests tested positive, as it has not collated this information.

"The results of these tests would not be isolated as these retests were treated as a normal screening test. Where a woman took up this option, the results of this cohort were not collected separately", the HSE said in a statement today to RTÉ News.

The results of HPV testing are important, as they allow doctors to prioritise women for further clinical checks like colposcopy.

The HSE has said that the clinical risk to women's health was low in relation to the overall issue and the retests were precautionary.

The period in question is 2015 to 2018.

Earlier this year, the HSE had put the number of women invited for re-screening at around 4,000.

Women were invited to attend for repeat screening, if they had tested negative and their original sample was not suitable for retesting, after the out of date testing kit was used by Quest Diagnostics.

In the case of 850 women, their original sample was suitable for retesting.

Late last week, the HSE said that from within this group, 52 women had tested positive for the HPV virus on rest.

The recent IT problem - which is separate to the out-of-date testing issue - resulted in around 800 women and their GPs not receiving the results of their retests.