Women who get private smear tests may struggle to book follow-up procedures in public clinics - HSE
Women who pay to get smear tests from private clinics may have difficulty accessing follow-up tests in the public system, the HSE has confirmed.
There has been pressure on public cervical cancer screening services in the wake of the CervicalCheck scandal. This has led to longer waiting times for smear tests and results prompting some women to seek tests privately.
Now it has emerged women who get private tests could struggle to book colposcopy procedures in public clinics if abnormalities are found in the initial examination. The HSE has confirmed that public patients are being prioritised.
A HSE spokesperson said: "Due to unprecedented demand for cervical screening in 2018 and a subsequent increase in referrals to colposcopy, the 15 public clinics that provide colposcopy services for the CervicalCheck programme have experienced significant pressure on their services.
"In the past, some of these clinics would have accepted referrals from women who had a private cervical screening test (smear test).
"At present, those clinics will prioritise referrals from the public screening programme."
The statement added: "Colposcopy clinics will normally prioritise referrals from the public screening programme but it is up to individual clinics to determine if they have capacity to take patients who have had private smears."