The NHS Are Failing To Meet Their Target With Women Receiving Their Smear Test Results

Only 54% of women get their results within two weeks... But the target is 98%.

The NHS Are Failing To Meet Their Target With Women Receiving Their Smear Test Results

by Latifah Davis-Cole |
Published on

A smear test is a cervical screening method that detects abnormal cells on the cervix. All women who are registered with a GP are invited for a cervical screening – how often you are supposed attend a screening is dependent on your age.

In the UK, once a woman takes a smear test, she should receive get her results back within two weeks. However, just under a half of women aren’t getting their results back in time. The NHS target for women to receive their results on time is 98%. But, only 54% of women are getting their results back on time and 83% are getting their results back within 3 weeks.

The president of The Royal College of Pathologists, Dr. Suzy Lishman discussed the issue this morning on the Today programme.

The Effect

Dr. Suzy Lishman states that it takes decades for cervical cancer to develop – ‘20 years or so,’ she says. Although she explains that the wait is very unlikely to have an effect on our health. The anxiety of having to wait, isn’t pleasant and can cause unnecessary stress and worry. Presenter Sarah Monatgue pointed out that in one case, a woman was waiting eight weeks for her results. But, Dr. Suzy Lishman argues that although eight weeks is a very long time, it is still is not long enough to have an effect on our health.

Why Are There Delays?

Well, as you’re probably aware, the NHS is facing a staffing crisis. It’s been an ongoing issue for roughly a year. The Royal College of Nursing surveyed staff in March 2017 and almost half (47%) of the 423,000 staff surveyed, believed that were wasn’t enough staff in order for them to do their jobs correctly.

Dr. Suzy Lishman adds that it’s not easy to train people for the role as it takes two-years to be a CITO (Chief Information and Technology Officer) and up to ten years to be a biomedical scientist or Pathologist.

Will The Delays Continue?

Unfortunately, yes. But, only for the short-term. Trusts are currently collaborating with joining trusts who are able to do some of the work in order for women to get their results back, hopefully, within the two-week bracket.

In 2019/2020 the NHS are planning to introduce a new system for primary HPV screening. Dr. Suzy Lishman claims that with the new system, fewer staff will be needed to process the samples as machines will analyse the samples. This should also speed up the process of receiving results.

As well as the delay in receiving results, a study carried out by UCL (University College London) has found that over 1/4 women in the UK are not having cervical screenings and 28% of women are unaware that screenings even exist. Read more here.

There are around 3,000 women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK every year. More needs to be done so that women are aware of the screening existence.

Check out Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Abut Smear Test But Were Afraid To Ask In Case You Look Stupid for more info on what to expect at smear tests.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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