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smear tests

CervicalCheck asks GPs to postpone smear tests booked this week after HSE cyber attack

Women who had a test booked are to be reassured by GPs that it is safe to wait a little longer for their smear test.

CERVICALCHECK SMEAR APPOINTMENTS booked for this week have been postponed until next week or beyond that, as part of the HSE’s response to the ransomware attack.

As a precaution, all computer systems were shut down and a cyber security team is now clearing through 2,000 systems linked to the HSE one by one.

Yesterday, CervicalCheck told GPs to reschedule appointments booked for this week until next week, as a precaution while a GP system is checked. It emphasised that GPs should stress to women that it is safe to wait a few weeks for a cervical smear appointment.

It’s not expected that the request to postpone appointments will stretch further than this week, as the precaution is being taken in relation to the IT system used by GPs.

In a statement to The Journal, the National Screening Service said:

“The external messaging system through which GPs receive results for their patients has been shut down as a temporary precaution. We are asking GPs to rearrange tests booked in for this week, while we assess the safety of the whole screening pathway.”

“This is a short-term precautionary measure and we wish to reassure women that it is safe to wait a few weeks for their new appointment.

“Our laboratories are continuing to receive and process samples,” it said, though women may experience some delays in receiving their smear results.

For colposcopy appointments, there may be more delays as these are carried out in hospital settings, where the impact of the cyber attack is more accute.

“We ask that anyone who has a follow-up colposcopy appointment continue to check for regular updates.”

Other cancer screening services

All BreastCheck screening appointments are proceeding as normal in the four breast screening static units and mobile units.

Women are being asked to attend their appointment or to let their breast-screening unit know if they can no longer attend so that the slot can be offered to someone else.

Surgeries in host hospitals are delayed, and patients who have follow-up hospital appointments should check the HSE hospital services disruptions page here to see if appointments are going ahead as planned at their hospital.

Those with BowelScreen home-screening kits are being asked to keep returning their testing kits, as these samples are still being processed and results are being issued.

Patients who are scheduled for a colonoscopy will receive an initial call from a BowelScreen nurse. They will have a further call with a nurse to discuss their colonoscopy in detail as soon as access to hospital systems has been restored.

Diabetic RetinaScreen appointments are continuing as planned.

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