Trust acts to review quality assurance arrangements for local cervical screening testing service

The national cervical screening programme is a vital aid in helping to detect abnormal cells that if left untreated, could develop possibly into cancer, thus providing the small numbers of women involved with a wider range of treatment options than otherwise might be the case.

The Trust was alerted by the regional screening quality assurance reference centre with concerns about the test results it had analysed for samples reported between July 2013 and March 2014 only. Although in line with national procedures, where every patient’s sample was reviewed by two individual members of the Trust’s specialist cytology screening team, sufficient concern was raised for the Trust to carry out an audit of all the tests that were screened during this nine month period using cytology screening services from other NHS trusts.

The original slides from the some 20,000 women involved in this review have been sent out for retesting, with the results of 93% now having been returned. Of these, less than 5% have required to be invited back for a repeat smear.

The approach being taken by the Trust is being followed purely as a precautionary measure, with the aim of confirming the original results. If there is a need to follow-up with any individual women, which if this happens generally will be to have their smear test repeated, then they will be contacted by the Trust.

The Trust’s medical director, Jane McCue, said:

“When we received the report from our quality assurance colleagues, it was right that we erred on the side of caution and reviewed the identified cervical screening tests that were carried out between July 2013 and March 2014. The aim was to confirm that the results given to the women involved at the time were right. Where we find reasons that some form of follow-up may be needed, we will arrange arrange for this to happen quickly.

“Cervical screening plays a vital role in helping to detect the very few women who may be in the very early stages of developing a cancer.  Early detection is known to help improve chances of any cancer detected being treated successfully, which is why we have acted promptly to ensure that confidence in the quality of our local screening programme is maintained.”