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  1. ITV Report

Routine screening appointments to be paused in NI

A number of routine screening programmes have been stopped temporarily to relocate health workers to help tackle Covid-19. Credit: PA

A number of routine screening programmes have been stopped temporarily to relocate health workers to help tackle Covid-19.

It comes after the announcement of plans to suspend non-urgent outpatient appointments and non-urgent surgical admissions.

The programmes affected are:

  • Routine cervical and breast cancer screening
  • Bowel cancer screening
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening and surveillance monitoring
  • Routine diabetic eye screening and surveillance monitoring

However, screening will continue to be offered for people who require the following:

  • Higher risk breast screening
  • Diabetic eye screening for pregnant women
  • Newborn bloodspot screening
  • Newborn hearing screening, (this programme will be focused on completing screening prior to discharge from maternity units only)
  • Antenatal infections screening
  • Smear tests for non-routine cervical screening (e.g. repeat tests requested by colposcopy or the laboratory)

Health Minister Robin Swann, advised that it is a temporary suspension and that the programmes will resume at the earliest opportunity.

In a statement he said: “In the meantime, I would urge anyone who may have symptoms of some of the conditions that we screen for to contact their GP.

“All best efforts will be made to contact patients who have received a timed appointment to let them know that the clinic will have to be postponed. I thank you for your patience and understanding at this difficult time.”

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