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‘Confusion’ expected with introduction of HPV screening — practice nurses

Nurses working in general practice have warned of “much confusion” ahead of the national transition to human papillomavirus (HPV) cervical screening at the end of March.  Practice nurses have criticised CervicalCheck for not fulfilling commitments to provide information sessions to them directly. Healthcare workers are also concerned that CervicalCheck is proceeding with HPV screening timelines without any increase in staffing and facilities.

Ms Orla Loftus Moran, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in General Practice and Public Relations Officer with the Irish Practice Nurses Association (IPNA), told the Medical Independent nurses were concerned that information packs on the introduction of HPV screening would arrive at practices before clinicians had an opportunity to attend any information sessions.

In 2018, during the height of the CervicalCheck controversy, practice nurses took 56.8 per cent (207,000) of screening samples nationally.

Ms Loftus Moran said practice nurses performed much unacknowledged work to try to retain confidence in the programme during this time.

She said practice nurses felt they had been ignored by CervicalCheck and that the attitude towards them had been “disparaging”.

“We are very disappointed at the level of engagement and awareness among CervicalCheck staff,” said Ms Loftus Moran. “On the ground, nurses were very annoyed and hurt that CervicalCheck does not appear to value their contribution.”

Eight regional HPV screening information meetings have been held to date, but many nurses were unable to attend due to limited places and long travel distances.

A HSE spokesperson said a further 13 information events would take place before the changes are introduced. Six more information events for colposcopists and an e-learning module are planned.

Nurses can contact the CervicalCheck Training Unit in Limerick (061 406 565) if they have concerns or information gaps, added the spokesperson.

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