Over 40,000 women did not receive cervical cancer screening letters

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The NHS failed to send out over 40,000 letters containing cervical cancer screening information to women in England. 150-200 of these were test results that had come up showing abnormalities, 4,000 of them were clear test results, whilst the remainder were invitations or reminders for cervical cancer screening.

Since the blunder, people have been left concerned that screening invitations and test results are only being received from a single source. It has been said that screening clinics and GPs should also be notifying women so that any information regarding cervical cancer screening cannot be missed.

The service that involves contacting almost five million women between the ages of 25 and 64 to invite them for screening is provided to NHS England by Capita.

Capita’s failure went on for six months – between January and June 2018.

Since the discovery, NHS England have contacted half of the woman who were found to have abnormal results and so far the error has not caused any harm. Out of the women who were not invited to be screened, it is thought that around 10,000 have been tested anyway.

Capita apologised for their actions and said that the correct methods of uploading, organising and checking had not been carried out.

Amanda Cavanagh, a Medical Negligence Specialist at Ashtons Legal says: “The key word, whenever this type of error occurs, appears to be ‘outsourcing’. What did this contract cost NHS England and what has it potentially cost patients? Ladies, please check with your GP when you had your last smear, all it takes is a few minutes of your life which could save your life”.


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