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COVID-19 (coronavirus): restrictions are in place nationwide. Get advice to stop the spread 

Cervical screening during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic

Cervical screening has restarted. We will send you a letter when it is time for you to book your appointment.

You can still travel to screening appointments in another county under current COVID-19 restrictions. This is because they are essential for your health.

Safety precautions are in place in all our health services. This is to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Please attend your screening appointment on the day and time you are given.

Precautions are in place to help protect you and our staff against the spread of COVID-19. Please attend for screening when you receive your invitation.

If you are worried about symptoms that might mean you have cervical cancer, phone your GP. Never ignore symptoms.

You can contact CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55. Ask to speak with one of our lead nurses.

Read more about cervical screening and cervical cancer.

Priority for screening

People whose screening test has been delayed due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic are now being invited for screening.

This includes people who:

  • usually have their routine screening test every 3 or 5 years and whose tests were delayed
  • were due to have an early repeat screening test - a one-year recall
  • needed a repeat test because their last sample could not be tested - a three-month recall
  • became eligible for their first cervical screening test this year because they have turned 25.

We are prioritising those who have been waiting the longest.

Contact a GP or clinic to book your screening test when you receive your invitation letter.

If you have received a letter and have not yet made an appointment, phone your GP or clinic to book your screening test.

If you are due screening and have not received a letter

If you are due to have a screening test in 2020, please wait for your invitation letter before rebooking your screening test.

It may take us until early 2021 to issue these invites.

Please wait for your letter asking you to rebook your screening test.

Aged 25 to 30 and having your first test

If you 25 to 30 years of age and having a test for the first time, check the CervicalCheck register to make sure we have all the details we need to invite you for screening.

HPV Cervical Screening

Cervical screening now looks to see if you have any of the high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer. This is a new way of cervical screening.

The old smear test looked for abnormal cells first. But finding HPV first is a better way to screen for cervical cancer.

If HPV is found, your same test sample will be checked to see if you have any abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in your cervix.

If we find a HPV infection early, we can monitor it and offer you treatment if there are any changes to cells in your cervix.

Read more about HPV cervical screening and how it compares with the old smear test.

Going for your screening test

The way your cervical screening sample is taken will be the same. But your GP surgery or clinic may be a little different when you go for your appointment.

Change you may notice include:

  • talking with your doctor on the phone before your appointment
  • your nurse or doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • being asked to wear a mask during your appointment
  • being asked to wait outside until it’s time for your appointment
  • fewer people in your healthcare building
  • waiting a little longer for your appointment

Because of this, you should:

  • try to organise childcare, where needed, ahead of your appointment
  • plan to wait a little longer at the surgery for your test, if needed
  • check transport timetables for your return home
  • bring warm clothes or a rain jacket, or both
  • make sure you have enough time for parking if driving
  • bring your own pen to sign the screening form
  • keep in touch with your surgery and follow their advice

Follow up treatment

If you need follow-up treatment, colposcopy clinics are being held.

It may seem a little different when you go to the clinic for your next colposcopy appointment.

Change you may notice include:

  • your nurse or doctor wearing some personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • being asked to wait outside until it’s time for your appointment
  • fewer people in your healthcare building
  • having to wait a little longer for your appointment

Your hospital clinic will be in touch with you ahead of your appointment. They will let you know what to expect when coming to the colposcopy clinic.

When you should reschedule an appointment

Phone your GP surgery, screening clinic or colposcopy clinic to reschedule your appointment if you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • are self-isolating because you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • need to postpone your appointment

If you are worried about symptoms that might mean you have cervical cancer, phone your GP. Never ignore symptoms.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • bleeding between periods
  • vaginal spotting or unusual discharge
  • pain during sex
  • bleeding after sex
  • pain in your pelvis - anywhere between your belly button and the top of your thighs

page last reviewed: 27/03/2020
next review due: 27/03/2023