CervicalCheck has told GPs the Academy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine has called for the entire cervical screening service to be re-established in Ireland when an extra test, HPV screening, is introduced later this year.

It said that this laboratory service should be led by consultant medical scientists and pathologists, a service configuration which is now emerging as standard practice in the UK.

The Academy said it wanted to clarify that the Irish laboratories that tendered for the cervical screening service in 2007/2008 were informed that they had scored highly in all areas of quality and turnaround time, but not in relation to cost.

The President of the National Association of General Practitioners has said doctors have been inundated with calls from concerned women following the CervicalCheck controversy.

Dr Maitiu Ó Tuathail says this has placed a huge demand on general practice services and, until last night, the HSE had not issued any guidelines about CervicalCheck to GPs.

However he said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that new information from the HSE now meant that GPs are better placed to answer patient queries.

"We have been provided with information late last night by the HSE, and I believe we are now in a better position to be able provide information to patients today, than we were yesterday," he said.

GPs have been told by CervicalCheck that the laboratories used to screen smear tests have robust quality assurance and that two screeners examine every test.

CervicalCheck says that "not all of the women were told about the audit".

A week ago the HSE's Senior Indicent Management Team revealed that the majority of the 209 women in the first group affected were not told.

In the document to GPs, CervicalCheck says that there is no evidence to suggest the clinical elements of the screening programme are faulty.

A preliminary independent review and a statutory inquiry is due to examine these and other issues.

The letter to GPs says that "no screening test is 100% accurate".

A Department of Health April briefing note to the Minister for Health indicated that screening was between 60-75% accurate in picking up anomalies.

CervicalCheck says that since 2008, more than 3 million tests have been taken in the screening service and that 208 were found to be inaccurate in the current review.

Last Friday, it was agreed that GPs would be paid €50 for each consultation with a woman on the issue, plus a fee of €49.10 for each smear test carried out.


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Dr Ó Tuathail said that there will not be a review of any previous normal smear tests.

He said if a woman is concerned about their test results, they can attend for a new smear test, free of charge.

The doctor said the Health Service Executive has released a lot of information about the three labs that examine smear tests, and that all three labs appear to be working to a high standard.

If they want, women can check which lab their smear test was sent to. This information will be provided by CervicalCheck

Dr Ó Tuathail said that women who have had a smear in the last three months must wait a minimum of three months before a repeat.

He reiteriated it is vitally important that women continue to attend for smear tests.

Meanwhile the HSE says there were 757 calls to the CervicalCheck Helpline yesterday and the average wait time before answering was 11 seconds.