Smear test review: Southern Health Trust confirms when screening clinics will begin
and live on Freeview channel 276
Cervical smear records of around 17,000 women in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area spanning a 13-year period are to be reviewed following an independent assessment of the screening system.
There has been widespread criticism over the delay in the review and the extra anxiety this has caused to the women affected.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Trust confirmed that women will be contacted with the offer of evening and weekend appointments over the next couple of months.
Women being offered a repeat smear test are those whose previous slide is unavailable either because their previous smear may have taken place more than 10 years ago (under storage regulations slides are retained for 10 years before disposal) or because the slide is damaged or not available.
A spokesperson for the Trust said the first smear clinics will be located on the Craigavon Area Hospital site and will operate each evening Monday to Thursday (5.30pm – 8pm) and all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday (8am – 8pm).
"We plan to provide clinics in other locations across the Trust including Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry and we anticipate that the clinics will be operational for up to 12 weeks from now.
"In order to avoid delay in starting the clinics, for the first clinics, our staff are contacting the women involved by telephone to offer them an appointment. Women attending the clinic will receive their results within six weeks of their clinic date. Women do not need to contact the Trust or their GP whilst this process is being rolled out.
"Please note that GPs will not be undertaking smear tests as part of this process.”
The smear clinics will be staffed by nurses with specialist experience of carrying out smear tests and will include nurses from within the Trust as well as GP practices. There will also be liaison staff available at the clinics who can provide support to women who may require it.
The spokesperson added: “We are sincerely sorry for any concern the ongoing review may cause the women affected and we urge anybody with concerns to contact our cervical review information helpline on 0800 9520255.
"Common questions and answers regarding the review are also available on a dedicated section of our website which is updated on an ongoing basis, based on queries women have raised with us.”