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Published: 31 January 2024

Latest news update from the National Screening Service – 31 January 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, read our blogs and follow us on X @NSShse.

Working with our stakeholders to mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2024

This year, Cervical Cancer Prevention Week campaign ran from 22 to 28 January. The week provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of cervical screening in preventing or reducing the risk of cervical cancer and to encourage people to choose screening.

We were delighted to work closely with Kim Hanly and Orla Loftus as part of this year’s campaign, whose stories highlight the role of cervical screening.

Kim has spent over a decade supporting women diagnosed with cervical cancer and promoting the importance of cervical screening. Kim’s story raises awareness about the HPV vaccination and cervical screening.

“I’m delighted to be a patient advocate for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2024,” said Kim. “It’s an opportunity to remind women and people with a cervix that HPV cervical screening is one of the best ways to prevent and reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer. Why choose screening? Because screening can find abnormal cells and can identify cancer at the earliest possible stage.”

Orla is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner at Knock Medical Centre in Co. Mayo, a CervicalCheck sample taker, and a recipient of the Irish Healthcare Award for Practice Nurse of the Year 2021.

In Orla’s blog, she describes her experience as a general practice nurse and her support for cervical screening. She remembers a time before Ireland had a cervical screening programme; a time when there was very little awareness of cervical cancer. The introduction of CervicalCheck in 2008 was, says Orla, an uplifting moment: “To have it for the women we serve and care for… because the bottom line is, cervical screening prevents cancer.”

The campaign encouraged eligible people to #choosescreening, to check that they are on the CervicalCheck register, and make sure that their contact details are correct so they can be invited for screening.

As part of the campaign, we developed two partner packs with resources that could be shared by our stakeholders to support their activities during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. We welcome feedback on these resources – you can email us at A big thank you to everyone who got involved and supported Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2024.

New Stakeholder Engagement Framework published, shaped by our stakeholders

We have published a new Stakeholder Engagement Framework that sets out a clear purpose and process for consistent stakeholder engagement to improve the effectiveness of the services we provide.

We would like to thank all our stakeholders who worked with us to develop the new framework. The research part of the project involved two surveys that were circulated in 2022 to our stakeholders. The surveys received over 300 responses, with a particularly high response rate among sample takers and GPs.

The framework is a reference point for both our internal and external stakeholders as we develop engagement further across the NSS. Although stakeholder engagement has always been a core part of our work, this is the first time that we have produced a clear vision for engagement.

The feedback we received highlighted that stakeholders engage with us to access the most up-to-date information. They identified priorities that have informed our actions and processes for engagement. We’ve developed an action plan to achieve these with five key objectives:

  • Inform and influence - continue to develop our communication updates.
  • Listen and learn - be an open, attentive, reflective, and learning service.
  • Deliver a quality service - work with our stakeholders to achieve measurable service improvements.
  • Build systems and partnerships - build sustainable partnerships across our health service and internationally.
  • Foster good culture and governance - engagement is an integral part of working within our governance structures.

BowelScreen Programme Report 2020-2021 published

We have published the BowelScreen Programme Report covering the 2020-2021 period.

The report shows the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of bowel screening services, including the period from March 2020 when invitations and colonoscopies were paused.

When we began sending invitations again in August 2020, endoscopy capacity remained at reduced levels. This continued into 2021 with the cyber-attack on the HSE severely affecting the capacity of our endoscopy services.

During the period 2020-2021, we invited 299,898 people for bowel cancer screening, and 139,618 satisfactory FITs (faecal immunochemical tests) were completed and returned. This represents a screening uptake rate based on the eligible population of 46.6%.

We focused on delivering our service safely and to as many people as possible. Despite the challenges, we expanded to offer endoscopy services in Waterford University Hospital in December 2020, bringing the total number of participating hospitals to 14.

Publishing the report, BowelScreen Programme Manager Hilary Coffey Farrell acknowledged the work and dedication of everyone involved in the delivery of the programme, as well as the patient and public representatives who work with us in the delivery of our services as part of the Patient and Public Partnership strategy.

Hilary said: “As we work to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity and build capacity that will allow us to expand the age range of the programme in line with the National Cancer Strategy, we will deliver continuous improvements so that we have a positive impact on population health in Ireland. In the years ahead, we will continue to work to ensure the quality and equity of our service. We will prioritise groups that we need to reach, to increase the number of people who choose bowel screening.”

New BreastCheck unit opens, serving north Cork city and county

Earlier this month we opened a new BreastCheck mobile unit on the grounds of St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Baker’s Road, Gurranabraher, Cork. The new unit brings the total number of screening locations in Cork to three, with screening continuing at the Southern Unit and on the grounds of St Finbarr’s Hospital.

BreastCheck Programme Manager Suzanne Lynch said: “It is our aim to have as many women as possible choose to come for breast screening. This means addressing as many barriers to screening as we can. We know that access can be a barrier and we hope that our new unit on the grounds of St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital will make screening more accessible to women living on the north side of Cork city and county. We are grateful to St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital for hosting us.”

Thank you to our stakeholders in the Cork area who helped us share the news about the new unit.

Join us on LinkedIn

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More news in brief

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