Records check following cervical screening error

  • Date: 27 September 2021

THE records of almost 200,000 women excluded from the cervical screening programme in Scotland are to be individually reviewed after it was found some had been left out in error.

The move follows confirmation in June that a small number of women who were wrongly excluded from screening had subsequently developed cancer, included at least one who died.

The Scottish government acknowledged there had been "errors in the screening system" going back decades and confirmed around 600 women have already been written to following an audit.

The government said it expects the "overwhelming majority" of exclusions to be correct, but admits "it is likely that more people will be discovered to have been wrongly excluded". This wider review is expected to take at least 12 months.

In her recent update to the Scottish Parliament, Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd said: "I once again offer my sincere apologies to all those affected by these errors. In particular, I extend heartfelt apologies to the women who were excluded from the programme who went on to develop cancer, and to their families. I also recognise the anxiety this will have caused to all those wrongly excluded from screening."

She reassured people over the additional review, saying that the risk of cervical cancer is fewer than one in every 100 women in Scotland across their lifetime. She said a dedicated team of staff was in place to carry out the review as quickly as possible. Additional funding has also been allocated to health boards to improve access to gynaecology appointments.

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