Southern Trust apology after smear test issues identified in review dating back to 2008

Around 17,000 women in the Southern health trust area are to have their smear tests rechecked as part of a review of cervical screening dating back to 2008.

Around 17,000 Northern Ireland women are to have their smear tests rechecked as part of a review of cervical screening dating back to 2008. The women affected are in the Southern Trust area. It said it followed an independent assessment of its cervical screening services from January 1 2008 and October 2021.

A risk assessment of lab tests found some negative tests should have been identified as abnormal and the re-screening is to take place as a 'precautionary measure,' the Trust said.

Not all will have to re-take the test as previous samples can be re-assessed.

The Trust has apologised and is writing to all affected.

Dr Stephen Austin, medical director for the trust said: “The Southern Trust is very conscious of the anxiety this report may cause to women. “As medical director, I apologise on behalf of the trust for what has happened. “Today we are issuing personal letters to all of the women potentially affected. “The vast majority of women screened by the Southern Trust over this period will be unaffected and therefore if you do not receive a letter from us, your records have not been identified as needing review.” A trust statement added: “The RCPath risk assessment report published today found that whilst the majority of negative results issued by the laboratory were correct, a significant number of women are likely to have had negative screening results from the Southern Trust laboratory which would have been identified as potentially abnormal by other laboratories. “Therefore, as a precautionary measure, the Southern Trust is to review the records of about 17,000 women screened during the period in question. “The purpose of the review is to look again for abnormalities to double-check that the correct information was provided. “In the majority of cases, we will be able to review the previous smear, which is stored in our laboratory, but in some cases we will invite women to attend for a further smear test. “The trust is writing to all women whose records will be reviewed with further information.”

A freephone helpline has been set up to answer questions or concerns. The number is 0800 9520255.

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