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2022-RA-1411-ESGO The impact of COVID19 on the cervical screening programme and colposcopy services in northern ireland
  1. Josh Courtney McMullan1,
  2. Laura Rainey2,
  3. David Morgan2 and
  4. Lorraine Johnston3
  1. 1Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Antrim Area Hospital, Antrim, UK
  3. 3Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, UK


Introduction/Background Screening programmes are an important aspect of illness prevention. In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northern Irish (NI) government took the decision to pause all routine cervical screening invitations. Colposcopy services continued but capacity was reduced due to infection control measures. A negative screening result is only indicative of a low risk of developing disease and relies on follow up screening to prevent progression of disease. This is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and their strategy to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem. There is concern that this will be compromised and cause a backlog of patients when services are reintroduced.

Methodology Data was collected from the largest geographical health and social care trust within NI. All patients who were invited to colposcopy following an abnormal cervical screening result from September to November 2019 were compared to those patients presenting from September to November 2020 during the peak of COVID-19. Data collected included demographics, presenting smear, time to report, method of biopsy and biopsy result.

Results 158 patients were included in 2019 and 87 in 2020 (45% reduction). There was a mean increase of 5 days to report the presenting smear in 2020. The most common presenting smear result was a borderline result for both years however more patients presented with severe dyskaryosis during 2020 (7% increase). A smaller time interval was seen in 2020 for colposcopy review and a mean reduction of 36 days for reporting the cervical biopsy result was seen during 2020 but no significant change in biopsy results were seen.

Conclusion COVID19 has had an impact on the timings of reporting presenting smears, smear to colposcopy interval and cervical biopsy reporting. there is no statistical difference in the individual outcomes of presenting smear and cervical biopsy.

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