CervicalCheck is beginning to function as normal, with waiting times for smear results largely down to seven weeks from a record high of 33 weeks, when the smear test backlog hit 80,000.
The HSE confirmed that the figure for outstanding tests, as of August 27, was 26,000 — just over the 23,000 smear test samples in progress at any one time, when the CervicalCheck system is deemed to be “working in equilibrium”.
Patient advocate Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died in July 2017 following two incorrect CervicalCheck test results in 2010 and 2013, said: “The last 16 months have been a constant battle, so it’s good to see that we are getting somewhere.”
While the offer of free out-of-cycle smears from Health Minister Simon Harris at the height of the CervicalCheck controversy has been blamed for the backlog, Mr Teap said the offer had encouraged women who had never gone for smears to do so, which had proved fortunate for some.
“One of these women who contacted me had picked up something and she underwent a minor procedure and she’s fine, so we have good stories emerging,” he said.Mr Teap said.
Mr Teap, who was named Cork Person of the Month for September, said the award was “bittersweet”.
“It’s bitter in the sense of the tragedy behind it, but sweet in the sense of an award for standing up for Irene, for our family, and for the other women affected by this,” he said.
Mr Teap’s name will now go forward for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year at a gala awards ceremony next January.
In terms of improved turnaround times for smear test results, the HSE said “96% of screening test were resulted in seven weeks”, although the remainder, in some cases, were taking longer.
”While the figures have declined in recent months, as we make progress in processing outstanding tests, the HSE is acutely aware of the impact of these waiting times on women,” said the HSE.
Under normal circumstances, women taking part in the national cervical cancer screening programme could expect results in four to six weeks.
Almost 350,000 screening tests were carried out during last year, 100,000 more than in normal circumstances.
- Anxiety over wait times for smear test results
- Thousands of Wiganers face anxious wait for smear test results
- More than 86,000 awaiting smear test results
- Alan Kelly: HSE must honour smear test results pledge
- Women face anxious three-month wait for smear test results due to NHS backlog
- Why are nearly five million of us in the UK avoiding our smear tests?
- More than 86,000 awaiting repeat smear tests
- Seven reasons why having your first smear test isn’t as scary as it seems
- Boy, 7, is left with horrific scars after suffering chemical BURNS from black henna tattoos