More than 40,000 women in England have not received information regarding cervical screening results and general updates after failure to send out letters by the NHS.
Roughly 4,000 of the women that were to be contacted was regarding actual cervical screening results and the remainder consisted of those who were to be invited for screening or reminding them that they were due.
NHS England are checking this blunder
The errors were made between January – June 2018, and according to the BBC between 150 and 200 of the test results that were not sent out were abnormal results. However, typically, the intended recipients should have received at least one notification from their GP or screening clinic – as women with abnormal cervical screening results should be sent letters from two or three sources.
NHS England are inspecting the issue further and are ensuring that abnormal results are being followed up thoroughly with further testing.
So far nearly half of the group has been contacted and NHS says no harm has been caused.
Something like this has happened before
An estimated 4.5 million women aged between 25 to 64 receive invitations for screening each year. Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every three years, with the older age groups invited every five years.
The news comes just months after it emerged that 174,000 women had not been invited for breast cancer screening after multiple mistakes went undetected for years.
However, in comparison with the breast screening mistake, the issue regarding cervical screening results and updates has been spotted much more quickly.
NHS England have said that there was no current evidence of any woman who was to receive cervical screening results and updates to have been harmed and the priority now is to ensure that everyone affected by this mistake was contacted.
However, Dr Richard Vautrey, of the British Medical Association, said the situation was “frankly appalling”.
“We know that, because of the nature of this procedure, many patients are already reluctant to attend these appointments, and therefore reminder letters are crucial.
“Incidents like this, therefore, will hardly inspire confidence in the system and risk even fewer women getting checked.”