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Published: 18 April 2024

Latest news update from the National Screening Service – 18 April 2024

Welcome to our latest news summary featuring updates from across the National Screening Service (NSS). To keep up to date with all of our news, including upcoming events and job opportunities, read our blogs, follow us on X @NSShse, and on LinkedIn.

CervicalCheck Programme Report tells story of first two years of primary HPV screening

We’ve published our CervicalCheck Programme Report for the period April 2020 to March 2022. CervicalCheck moved to primary HPV cervical screening in 2020. It was the biggest change since the programme began in 2008. At the same time, we increased the upper screening age from 60 to 65. We also changed the screening intervals – the time between tests – to every three years for women aged 25 to 29, and every five years for women aged 30 to 65. In addition, we created an increased surveillance pathway for women who have HPV infection without evidence of abnormal cells.

We implemented and managed these changes during the most uncertain period of the global COVID-19 pandemic: spring and summer of 2020. Despite the challenges, including a pause in screening for three months in 2020, by the end of 2021 we had screened the same number of women in the two-year period of the pandemic as in any other two-year period.

The report shows 73% coverage, which represents the proportion of the target population screened within a five-year period. Ireland has the fifth highest coverage in the OECD and is well above the OECD average of 55.8%. It shows that Ireland continues to exceed the WHO target set to achieve the elimination of cervical cancer (70%).

End Of Year Report 2023 shows progress in implementing our five-year strategy

We’ve published our End of Year Report for 2023. It shows the progress we have made in our first year implementing our strategy - Choose Screening: Together we can make a difference.

In 2023, we developed new services and strengthened our engagement and collaboration with our partners, including:

  • establishing personal cervical screening reviews for women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer after screening
  • rolling out national eye screening for women with diabetes who become pregnant
  • expanding the age range for BowelScreen, making it available to more people
  • capturing the experiences of women who attend our BreastCheck programme through a new online survey
  • developing new resources to support our Patient and Public Partnership
  • working with our partners to develop and implement Ireland’s roadmap to Cervical Cancer Elimination.

Publishing the report, our Chief Executive Fiona Murphy said: “The work of our staff in 2023 clearly demonstrates our belief that excellence in service delivery is achieved by partnership working and a focus on engagement. Working together, we are building trust and confidence in our services and creating better outcomes for the people we care for. We will continue this work as we continue to implement our strategy and as we seek to support and enable everyone to choose screening.”

Learning from the experiences of BowelScreen participants

Our new report, BowelScreen Patient Reported Experience Measures programme 2023, captures the views of people who take up the offer of bowel screening.

Patient reported experience measures, or PREMs, is an online survey that gathers information from people who get a positive FIT (faecal immunochemical test) result.

More than 1,600 people took part in the survey – a 47% response rate. Nine out of 10 people said that their experience of BowelScreen was either good or very good. Almost all (over 98%) agreed that the FIT kit was easy to use, and that the instructions leaflet was easy to read and understand.

Survey participants are given an opportunity to suggest how we could improve the overall BowelScreen experience. We analysed a sample of 200 responses. Some of the areas identified for improvement in the survey include:

  • providing more information for patients so they feel better prepared
  • using a different bowel prep medicine mixture
  • consideration of pain during the colonoscopy procedure
  • better communication of results.

By listening to the voices of people using our services, we can find out what is working well and identify areas for improvement. We will develop a quality improvement plan with the feedback we have received and work to continuously improve the BowelScreen experience for people who choose screening.

Thousands of women over 60 take up invitation for an HPV screening test

In October and November 2023, we sent out 106,000 invitations to women who were aged 60 to 65 in 2020, who had not had the opportunity to have an HPV screening test. Over 26,000 women, or 24.9% of the women we invited, have taken up the invitation.

These women did not previously have the opportunity to have an HPV screening test because they had already had their final cervical screening test with the programme before HPV screening was introduced, and before the upper age range for CervicalCheck was extended to 65. Both developments were in 2020.

Women in this age range contacted us to say they were interested in having the new HPV screening test. Following an evidence review that showed under-screened women in this age group could benefit from one HPV screening test, we set up a project to make an HPV screening test available to women in this group.

We are now working to evaluate the project. We hope to apply learnings from the project to help women aged 50 to 65 to choose screening. We will report on our evaluation when it is complete.

More news in brief

Here are a selection of blogs we have published recently:

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