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All Northern Ireland health trusts missing smear test target

PUBLISHED

Some women in Northern Ireland are waiting more than three times longer than they should for smear test results.

BBC News NI's Evening Extra programme learned that all health trusts were breaching the target of 80% of samples being reported within four weeks.

The Department of Health (DoH) and Public Health Agency (PHA) said it was due to pressures on pathology services. This included a shortage of available trained staff across the UK to carry out the screening, they said.

Unlike the rest of the UK, each sample in Northern Ireland has to be individually examined by a scientist.

In Great Britain, HPV primary screening is used. This tests the sample of cells taken at the appointment for a virus that can cause cervical cell changes to develop into cancer.

The DoH said it intended to implement this in Northern Ireland and the project involved significant work to reconfigure services.

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Source: BBC News, 15 September 2022

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