Lab failure means review of 2,500 UK smear tests

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Thousands of cervical smear test samples are being reviewed by an independent screening service in the UK after a problem was discovered in a laboratory, reports The Guardian. Basildon and Thurrock NHS foundation trust in Essex said 2,500 samples from cervical cancer tests were being re-screened after a problem with testing was identified in a routine Public Health England quality assurance visit in June 2017.

The report says so far, 900 smear test samples have been reviewed, and 17 women have been invited for further assessment. Of those, nine need to be re-screened while eight have been referred for further investigation.

“All the women who have so far been identified as needing to be seen again have been notified and their GP informed. Women whose negative result has been confirmed after re-screening will not be contacted as their result has not changed,” the trust said. “We understand that this is a potentially worrying time for the women involved and would like to reassure all women covered by the locally provided cervical screening programme that this was an isolated incident.”

The report says Pathology First, which runs the laboratory where the problem was discovered, delivers laboratory services to about 750,000 patients and more than 100 GP practices in the south-east. The lab in Basildon carries out more than 900 different types of test. The affected samples were taken between April 2016 and September 2017 from women aged between 24 and 29 who were undergoing their first smear test, and a number of women in their 60s.

NHS England said there have been changes to local processes and updated staff training to ensure women receive safe, high-quality screening.

The Guardian report

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