Patient confidence in cervical screening process must be restored – Lockhart

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has said that news that 17,500 women are to receive letters from the Southern Trust to advise they will have their smear tests re-checked will cause significant distress to women affected. This process is part of a major review of cervical screening dating back to 2008.

By Carla Lockhart MP

Upper Bann

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The DUP MP said:

“This is deeply worrying for women who have been tested over this thirteen year period.

Cervical screening is absolutely vital for women, and it is important that women have confidence in the screening process, and that test results are accurate.

That confidence has been completely undermined. I have spoken to women impacted by this issue and who raised initial concerns. I subsequently engaged with the Trust to express these concerns and press for this course of action. Therefore this extensive process of re-checking and in some cases re-testing is welcome.

Priority must now be given to those who need a repeat test. The whole purpose of screening is to detect any abnormalities early. Time is now very much of the essence for those women who are in this position. It is essential that the necessary resources are allocated to this re-testing process, and that anxiety and fears can be assuaged with urgency.

The Trust has many questions to answer. The failures outlined by the Royal College of Pathologists are deeply worrying, and will raise questions around how process and staff performance are monitored to ensure the highest standards of clinical practice and patient care.

I would urge any woman with concerns to avail of the dedicated helpline being provided by the Trust. I am also more than happy to talk to anyone impacted by this process.

Today represents the right course of action being taken, but we must ensure all women are supported through this process and that safeguards are put in place to avoid anything like this happening again.”

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