The national cervical screening programme CervicalCheck has said it expects that all women who were due to have a screening test this year will have been invited by March 2021.

Figures show that the pausing of screening, due to Covid-19, resulted in more than 99,000 screening invitations being delayed.

CervicalCheck has insisted that the delay will not have a negative effect for the vast majority of women concerned.

The Irish Cancer Society has urged women to take up their screening appointment given the risk cervical cancer poses.

CervicalCheck usually screens about 270,000 women a year.

But after the start of the Covid-19 emergency here, screening was paused until July.

It meant that just 39,392 women were screened between January and June.

CerviclCheck has promised to get to all of the women concerned.

Clinical Director Dr Noirin Russell said that under the phased restart, the service is prioritising certain groups.

All paused screening letters are due to have been issued by the end of this month.

"It is expected that all people due a screening test in 2020 will have been invited by March 2021," it said.

The first groups invited include those aged 25 years and people due an early screening test - those on a one-year recall.

After that, it is inviting those on a three to five-year recall, starting with those waiting the longest.

It will then follow-up screening non-responders and others.

Figures from CervicalCheck show that less than 12% of women who have got their 'paused' screening invitation have responded so far.

It has urged women to take up the offer of a screening appointment.

The Irish Cancer Society has also expressed concern that so many woman have not responded yet to the invitation to take up a screening test.

Dr Russell also emphasised that women with symptoms should not wait until they get a screening letter.

CervicalCheck said that the phased restart of screening is dependent on the ongoing impact of Covid-19.