GPs in Donegal are offering special clinics to allow women who are concerned about the cervical cancer tests scandal to have repeat tests.
Health Centres and individual doctors have told this newspaper that they are already taking calls from concerned women in the county and expect the number of calls and contacts to grow in coming days.
Concerned patients began contacting GPs in the county on Monday morning after it emerged that 206 women were not told they may have had delayed cervical cancer diagnosis.
One GP practice said it was receiving calls from women seeking to have repeat tests from 8.30am on Monday.
Another GP, Dr Alfie Mannion from the Grove Medical Practice in Donegal Town said the test debacle “was a real mess” and they were expecting large numbers of women to contact them as a result of the errors that had been made.
“Sadly we cannot truly rely on the quality of the returns, we will be doing repeat tests, but the concern now is where will those tests go, and the accuracy of the test results. We don’t want women to lose confidence in the actual test, but clearly that’s where we are, and it is a worry.”
He said he had no doubt they would have women calling to them asking about their smear tests. “This story is evolving all the time. I think we will get many calls from women worried about their results.”
In Ballyshannon a spokesman for the Bayview Medical Practice said they had “three to four” women in contact on Monday morning and were expecting “many more”. He said: “There are concerns now about the quality of the ‘true negative’ result,” adding “there are a lot of worried people out there this morning”. The spokesman added they would be offering repeat smear tests to any women who requested them.
Dr. James McDaid
In Letterkenny Dr James McDaid said the Scally McDaid Medical Practice will be holding special clinics for women who wish to have retests.
He stressed that the percentage of tests that had provided the incorrect results was extremely small, but women now have a confidence issue with the cervical cancer screening programme.
“My advice is in accordance with what the minister said - if anyone has any worries go to their GP and the State will fund the retest.
“We have set up a special clinic because the need is there because of the number of calls we have had this morning. We have had a rush in calls of women who have had smear tests in the past.”
He said he believed all tests would have to be redone because of the confidence issue with the cervical cancer screening.
“The percentage (of incorrect test results) is just 0.0005 per cent, but the big question is how do you relieve the fears and give people confidence in the system.”
“I would say to women if you are in any way afraid or concerned go to your GP. If women come in we will set up times for the clinics.”
He said the issue showed the importance of girls receiving the HPV vaccine.