News & Insights: Healthcare

Southern Health and Social Care Trust – Smear Test Review

9 October 2023

It has been reported by BBC News NI that approximately 17,500 women who underwent smear testing under the care of The Southern Health and Social Care Trust are to have their test results checked following “a highly critical report by The Royal College of Pathologists”

The report found:

  • Several cytology staff were “significantly underperforming”
  • Mechanisms to check their work were flawed
  • Action taken by management was inadequate over many years
  • While a majority of negative results issued by the laboratory were correct, a “significant number” of these would likely have been identified as “potentially abnormal” by other laboratories

It is understood that the review applies to tests performed between 1 January 2008 and October 2021 and that it is recommended that those women deemed to be most at risk should be recalled so that they can be reassured by a negative HPV test. As screening is offered to women every three or five years, depending on their age, many women will have had more than one screening test during this timeframe and had subsequent smears which have provided assurance.

The BBC also reports that the Trust is in contact with the family of a woman who recently died from cervical cancer and another woman who is receiving palliative care.

The Department of Health called the report’s findings “clearly unacceptable” and the Trust has apologised for the “stress and anxiety” caused to women.

This is hugely concerning news not least given the current backlog in the processing of smear test results across Northern Ireland. It may well also unfortunately be that some patients will have suffered avoidable harm or will require more invasive and potentially life-changing treatment as a result of the delay in their condition being diagnosed and treated.

If you have been affected by this development, please fell free to contact our expert team at ORS Healthcare for advice.

To view the full BBC NI article, click here:

  • Share