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Published: 29 May 2024

Latest news update from the National Screening Service – 29 May 2024

Welcome to our latest news summary featuring updates from across the National Screening Service. 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.

Putting people at the centre of what we do – our PPP network

We are looking for people to be part of our Patient and Public Partnership network (PPP). Our PPP volunteers are people who want to help us make our screening services better, and save lives. We are looking for people from all communities and backgrounds to be part of our strong volunteer network and help shape our services.

PPP volunteers are people who have time and are willing to share their opinions, ideas, and life-experiences. By joining our PPP network, they will have opportunities to:

  • take part in training
  • choose projects or committee work of interest to them to help us deliver quality-assured screening programmes
  • improve our information materials to inform people about screening, its benefits and limitations
  • get involved and have their say.

We provide an open and supportive environment for our volunteers to share their ideas and views from their own experiences of using our screening services. We listen and involve our volunteers, and value the time that they give us to help improve our services. We support them to attend meetings online or in-person, and we reimburse their travel costs. We provide induction training, and other training as opportunities arise.

If you know a suitable PPP candidate, they can contact us by emailing

The people behind our programmes

On our website, we feature the stories of healthcare professionals, the people who play vital roles in helping us deliver our screening programmes.

  • Natasha Mahon is a Clinical Midwife Manager (CMM2) and accredited colposcopist at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin. Natasha trained in midwifery and post-natal care, and later moved to colposcopy and cervical cancer prevention and treatment. A colposcopy is an examination of a woman’s cervix that enables a specialist doctor or colposcopist to confirm if abnormal cells are present. This helps them decide what, if any, treatment is necessary. Natasha says we don’t talk about colposcopy enough, even among our own friends: “A lot of women get referred to colposcopy and I want to remove the stigma of the exam. I want it to be discussed more openly.” Natasha promotes cervical screening among her colleagues, and organised an information stand in the hospital for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week this year. “I want to educate midwives about HPV and how confident we can be in the changes to cervical screening and the HPV test,” she says. “There are many opportunities for midwives to talk to patients in the hospital about this life-saving screening service. We should all stand behind screening.”
  • Deirdre Diver is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner Gastroenterology, and Nurse Endoscopist at Letterkenny University Hospital, Co. Donegal. Deirdre coordinates the BowelScreen endoscopy programme in the hospital. A colonoscopy is usually a 30-minute examination of the large bowel with a special camera called a colonoscope. During the examination, Deirdre removes any visible abnormal tissue growths (called polyps) and takes biopsies for further investigation. “Most BowelScreen patients have no symptoms of bowel cancer, so if we find cancer, it’s usually at an earlier stage when it’s easier to treat,” says Deirdre. “Removing polyps means we can prevent some cancers from developing.”

Thanks to Natasha and Deirdre for supporting our work and helping people to #ChooseScreening.

NSS teams present key research at BSCCP conference

Our CervicalCheck, Programme Evaluation Unit (PEU) and Public Health staff presented six scientific posters at the recent British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (BSCCP) annual scientific meeting in Edinburgh in April. The BSCCP is a forum for multidisciplinary teams in healthcare to discuss matters relevant to the prevention of cervical cancer. It plays an important role in the training of colposcopists and features a wide range of colposcopy-related topics and speakers.

Director of our PEU Prof Patricia Fitzpatrick gave an oral presentation titled Uptake of cervical screening and acceptability of HPV self-sampling in Irish Traveller women. She presented data from a survey of 451 Travellers that found HPV self-sampling has the potential to improve cervical screening rates among Traveller women. Prof Fitzpatrick was also among the authors of a poster presentation titled Assessing the attitudes and preferences towards HPV self-sampling for cervical screening in the Republic of Ireland – a cross sectional study.

Another group of NSS colleagues found that colposcopy clinics are a suitable setting for smoking cessation interventions in a study titled Exploring quit smoking practice in colposcopy clinics in Ireland.

Dr Mairead O’Connor of our PEU has written blogs about two of the research presentations:

In related news, congratulations to CervicalCheck Clinical Director Prof Nóirín Russell who has been appointed as the Republic of Ireland regional representative on the BSCCP Executive for 2024-2027.

Speaking after the BSCCP scientific meeting, Prof Russell said: “It is a great opportunity for the Irish colposcopy community to strengthen links with our BSCCP colleagues. As we move towards our shared global goal of cervical cancer elimination, there are lots of opportunities for collaboration and sharing of good practice.”

Men’s Health Week 2024: men’s health counts

International Men’s Health Week (MHW) runs from Monday 10 June to Sunday 16 June. This year’s theme is ‘Know your numbers', and the key message to everyone is that men's health counts.

Screening is a practical step that men can take to look after their health and during Men’s Health Week, we will be highlighting BowelScreen and Diabetic RetinaScreen.

As part of MHW, our Specialist in Public Health Medicine Dr Alan Smith will take part in a webinar with former Irish rugby international Rob Kearney, at 11.30am on 10 June. Register for the webinar.

Please help to spread the message that men’s health counts and during MHW, encourage men and boys who are eligible to take part in our screening programmes and to #ChooseScreening.

More news in brief

Here is a selection of blogs we published in May:

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