Local BreastCheck services have been reduced due to the large number of Covid-19 cases in communities and pressure on hospitals.

The National Screening Service has revealed that routine screening will be delayed to avoid the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“Whilst screening remains a safe procedure, we believe the risk to healthy women posed by current levels of Covid-19 in the community outweighs the benefits of routine breast screening,” a statement said.

Local screening services, including those in Letterkenny, have been curtailed by the third wave of the virus.

While non-symptomatic women have their screening delayed, follow-up clinics for women scheduled for further assessment will proceed and “they should continue to attend these appointments”.

The NSS also said that screening is “only the first step in the BreastCheck pathway. Treating women with screen detected abnormalities involves many hospital departments, beds and theatre resources that are currently under pressure.

“Hospitals are suspending or reducing routine activity to accommodate the Covid-19 surge.”

BreastCheck will resume sending out appointments for routine screening when it is deemed safe to ask women to re-attend.

Meanwhile, CervicalCheck capacity has also been reduced in GP practices due to the demands of the virus. Women who are booked for screening in January are being advised that their test may be rescheduled. Cervical screening is for well people without symptoms and any person who is worried about symptoms is advised not to wait for screening but to contact their GP immediately for appropriate follow-up care.