Cervical cancer test results in Ireland not sent to 4,000 women

Patient preparing for cervical screening Image copyright Science Photo Library

More than 4,000 women in the Republic of Ireland were not told the results of cervical cancer smear tests due to an IT problem, a report has revealed.

It found in about 870 of the cases, results letters were not issued to the women or their GP.

In the other 3,200 cases the results were issued to GPs, but not the women.

The report concluded there was not proper due diligence and risk assessment in appointing a new lab as a cervical check test facility.

The IT problem was caused by the decision to use the United States-based laboratory without properly considering how it would fit into the Irish health system.

Quest Diagnostics Chantilly Laboratory was appointed in an effort to help clear a major backlog of cervical cancer test samples.

This, the review said, was well intentioned but no testing took place to see if it could be seamlessly integrated into the way the system operated.

It led to delays in test results being sent to women and GPs, and confusion among GPs about the need to inform patients.

In some cases results were not sent at all.

The Health Service Executive, which provides Ireland's public health services, says it "accepts entirely" the findings of the review.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report says Ireland should have its own laboratory for screening smear tests.

'Women first'

The report makes a number of recommendations, including the adoption of a "women-first" approach.

It suggests developing a tracking system for smear tests, which would allow patients to know what stage their test is at.

The review also emphasises the importance of Ireland having its own national screening laboratory service for tests.