As recently reported by the BBC, a failure by the NHS has resulted in around 40,000 women in England not receiving letters regarding cervical cancer smear tests, including invitation and reminder letters, and abnormal test results.
These errors occurred between January and June 2018 by Capita, the company responsible for distributing these letters on behalf of the NHS.
The British Medical Association (BMA), the body which represents doctors in the UK, highlighted their concern with Capita’s performance in claiming that this “was the latest in a series of blunders by Capita.” The GP committee chair of BMA,
Dr Richard Vautrey said that “this is an incredibly serious situation, and it is frankly appalling that patients may now be at risk because of this gross error on the part of Capita.”
It is thought that around 150 – 200 of the letters that were not sent out, were for patients who had abnormal results. However, patients should be receiving notifications from multiple sources, including their GP or a screening clinic.
According to the BBC, NHS England are checking that patients are receiving multiple notifications and that abnormal tests are being efficiently followed up with further testing. It is also reported, that half of the group of women affected by this failure have been contacted, and so far “no harm has been caused.”
Cervical cancer affects around 3,000 women a year and kills around 850 women a year.
Dr Richard Vautrey pointed out that “many patients are already reluctant to attend these appointments, and therefore reminder letters are crucial” and incidents like this do not “inspire confidence in the system and risk even fewer women getting checked.”
NHS England has asked former Government cancer tsar Sir Mike Richards to review the changes that are needed to this service and whether technology is being used to its full potential. The results of this review are expected to be received by the summer of 2019.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence claims and have an experienced team who have helped women to recover compensation for failures with regard to cervical cancer screenings. If you have concerns about the treatment received by you or a loved one please telephone us on 0116 254 7456 to see if we can help you.