Coronavirus Northern Ireland: ‘Temporary pause’ for routine cervical and breast cancer screening

Posted by
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that a number of routine screening programmes have been paused to allow staff and resources to be reallocated to tackling Covid-19.

Speaking to Newry Times, Health Minister Robin Swann said, “Covid-19 is the most serious public health emergency that Northern Ireland has ever experienced.



“Given the unprecedented challenge we face, and the fact that in the next short while we face into what will be the most critical period of our fight against Covid-19, I am now having to make decisions that I would never have countenanced previously.  

“Pausing these programmes was not an easy decision.

“I know the importance of screening, but this decision will allow reallocation of precious resources to our frontline staff as they undertake the massive task ahead of them.

“In addition, it must be remembered that many people who attend screening programmes are in a higher-risk category for coronavirus and it is essential that we minimise risk to those people through maintaining social distancing at this time,” he added.

The move follows the announcement of plans to suspend non-urgent outpatient appointments and non-urgent surgical admissions.



Programmes affected are: routine cervical cancer screening; routine breast cancer screening; bowel cancer screening; abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening and surveillance monitoring; and routine diabetic eye screening and surveillance monitoring.

Screening will continue to be offered for people who require: 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; and smear tests for non-routine cervical screening (e.g. repeat tests requested by colposcopy or the laboratory)

Minister Swann continued, “This is a temporary suspension and I will ensure that the programmes resume at the earliest possible opportunity.



“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,” Minister Swann added.


Keep up to date with all the latest Northern Ireland Coronavirus / Covid-19 news HERE


Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed


This website does not share personal information with third parties nor do we store any information about your visit other than to analyze and optimize your content and reading experience through the use of cookies. You can turn off the use of cookies at anytime by changing your specific browser settings.

We are not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without our permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice and was last updated on 16/01/2017. If you have any questions feel free to contact Newry Times by emailing

Log in