Women have been wrongly given the all-clear following blunders with NHS cervical cancer tests.
At least 17 patients were told their results were normal when they had abnormal cells which could develop into cancer.
The mistake happened in a lab in Basildon, Essex, called Pathology First, which is run by Southend University Hospital and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals.
At least 17 patients were told their results were normal when they had abnormal cells which could develop into cancer (file photo)
Yet they were only identified by the Screening Quality Assurance Service – the Government regulator – which said 2,500 negative samples taken between April 2016 and September 2017 needed to be retested.
So far 900 samples have been retested and among these, 17 women were found to have abnormal results.
The total number affected is likely to rise once all the samples have been re-tested.
These women will need to have their tests redone and some may be found to have cancerous cells.
The error was uncovered by Pulse magazine and GPs in the area were sent letters on Wednesday.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: ‘It is a concern that this error has happened and led to some women incorrectly being given negative results.
The mistake happened in a lab in Basildon, Essex, called Pathology First, which is run by Southend University Hospital and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals (file photo)
‘It is imperative these women are contacted as soon as possible to ensure there are no delays in any required treatment. For women waiting to hear if they have been affected this may be an anxious time, however it is important to remember that five million women are invited for cervical screening every year in the UK and the majority of tests come back as normal.
Earlier this month research by the charity found that women were shunning the tests because they were ashamed about their bodies.
A third of the 2,017 women surveyed said they had delayed attending their smear test appointment because they were embarrassed.
Smear tests are offered to all women aged 25 to 49 every three years and they check for abnormal cells in the cervix, earlier this month research found that women were shunning the tests because they were ashamed about their bodies
Smear tests are offered to all women aged 25 to 49 every three years and they check for abnormal cells in the cervix.
Women with abnormal cells don’t necessary have cervical cancer but these cells could become cancerous if they aren’t removed.
A spokesman for the hospitals said: ’The re-screening of 900 tests to date has identified that 17 women need to be seen again. These women have been contacted and will be invited for further assessment.
‘Women whose negative result has been confirmed after re-screening will not be contacted as their result has not changed.
’We would like to reassure all women covered by this cervical screening programme that NHS England and Public Health England Screening Quality Assurance Service are supporting Pathology First and clinicians at Basildon and Southend Hospitals to ensure they receive safe, high-quality screening. There have been changes to local processes, and update training for staff involved in screening.’