A consultant gynaecologist has said the country's 15 colposcopy clinics are at breaking point, due to inadequate resources and abuse from some patients which is impacting on morale.

Dr Nóirín Russell is the clinical lead with Kerry Colposcopy Service. She says all of the doctors working with the service across the country are considering quitting.

Colposcopy is a medical procedure to check for cancer, and changes that may lead to cancer, in women.

It involves an examination of women and the checking of tissue samples under a microscope for signs of the disease.

Dr Russell heads up the colposcopy service at University Hospital Kerry, one of 15 colposcopy clinics around the country which operate under the CervicalCheck programme, where samples from thousands of women are taken and checked for cancer.

She says colposcopy clinics are at breaking point, because underresourcing and abuse from some patients are impacting on staff morale.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has acknowledged the pressure on staff.

In a statement this afternoon, the Health Service Executive described screening as a valuable tool in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer and it promised to improve and strengthen the screening service.