Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick has confirmed that the Scottish Government is “actively” looking at re-starting cervical screening and other paused programmes following a question from Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart.
During virtual health questions, Ms Wishart noted that cervical screening often picks up on cell changes that need treatment before any symptoms show and that the pause to the programme is causing real worry to some women who have had their appointments cancelled. Ms Wishart asked what consideration has been given to re-starting the screening programme since it was paused on 30 March.
Minister Joe FitzPatrick said that it was not an easy decision to pause the screening programme but that the decision was made using clinical evidence and advice. He told Ms Wishart that issues surrounding the re-starting of cervical screening and other paused programmes are “actively” being considered.
It is estimated that in each quarter year period, 101,963 patients received cervical screening, of which 70 are diagnosed with invasive cancer.
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“I’m glad that re-starting this programme is being considered. It is important for women who are invited to attend smear tests. The tests can pick up on issues before any symptoms show and are so important for early cancer diagnosis and treatment. Cervical screening was paused for good clinical reason to make sure patients weren’t exposed to coronavirus and to support capacity to tackle the virus. But this has been anxious time for some women, especially those who need regular screening.”