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Information for people asked to attend repeat cervical screening tests

About 200 people are being asked to book a repeat cervical screening test.

This is because there was a delay in testing samples for abnormal cervical cells within the recommended timeframe of 42 days.

This delay was related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many people who were unable to attend cervical screening in 2020 had their cervical screening test earlier this year. This led to a larger than expected number of samples taken.

Because of social distancing and COVID-19 infection control measures in our sample sorting centre, we could not increase our staff numbers. This meant we were unable to process some of these samples in time.

We have written to people affected by this issue. If you are affected, we will send you a letter.

If you need a repeat test, we will let you know when it is due. The repeat test will be free.

We are sorry this happened and apologise for the inconvenience and any concern this may cause you.

We continue to update our website with information on this issue.

People whose samples are affected

The people affected by this issue had their cervical screening tests earlier this year. This issue does not affect all women who had a cervical screening test during this time.

It only affects people we have contacted and who had HPV (human papillomavirus) found in their sample. This is about 200 in 200,000 women screened in the first 6 months of 2021.

If you had a test earlier this year and your result was HPV not found, you do not need to take any action. You will have your next screening test in 3 or 5 years depending on your age.

If you are affected by this issue

If you are affected by this issue, we will write to you and your GP in July or early August 2021. We will give you a date for a repeat test.

Repeat cervical screening test

Your repeat cervical screening test should be at least 3 months after the date of your last test.

You need to wait 3 months so that the cells in your cervix have time to grow back and we can get the best samples.

Your repeat cervical screening test will be free of charge with any GP or sample taker registered with CervicalCheck.

You will need to:

  • check the letter we send you for the date of your last test
  • make an appointment with a GP or sample taker at least 3 months after your last test
  • bring all the information we have sent you about this issue

Your GP will put a yellow label on your sample after they take it. This is to let the lab know that your cervical screening test sample needs to be done as a priority.

Repeat cervical screening test results

Results for repeat cervical screening tests will be processed within around 4 to 6 weeks after your screening test is done. We will send you a letter when your results are ready. Your GP will also get a copy of your results.

We will test your sample for HPV first.

Your HPV retest results may be different from your original test result.

If your retest result is HPV not found

Your previous test found HPV. But if your retest result is 'HPV not found', this means your body has cleared the virus. You are safe to return to screening every 3 or 5 years, depending on your age.

For most people, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any harm. Your body's immune system clears it.

Read more about a 'HPV not found' result

If your retest result is HPV found

This means that you still have HPV. We will check your sample for abnormal cervical cells.

If there are no abnormal cervical cells, you should have a repeat test in 12 months. This is to check if your body has cleared the HPV infection.

If you have abnormal cell changes, you will need to have a follow-up test called a colposcopy.

Read more about cervical screening test results

Contacting CervicalCheck

We continue to update our website with information on this issue.

If your query is not answered here, you can contact us on:

Freephone: 1800 45 45 55

Phone (from outside Ireland): 00353 21 421 7612

Our phone line is open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Last updated: 27 July 2021 at 10.55 am

page last reviewed: 19/07/2021
next review due: 19/07/2024