HUNDREDS of women in Colchester and mid Essex could be waiting six times longer than the two-week target for smear tests results.
Cervical screening samples are usually taken at GP clinics before being sent off to laboratories for testing.
Samples from this area are taking up to 12 weeks to process by Cambridge University Hospitals, due to “staff shortages”.
It processes results for women living in Colchester and mid Essex as well as West Suffolk, Ipswich and parts of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Hundreds of women in Colchester and mid Essex are thought to be affected.
Robert Music, chief executive of the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust charity, said the delays were was “concerning”.
He said: “In Essex, over one in four women don’t attend smear tests. At a time when we should be trying to increase attendance, in fact we could see women who are anxious about increased waiting times put off attending and public trust in the programme decline. There is a clear need for greater action.”
North East Essex GP commissioners said they will be working with Public Health England and NHS England “to ensure local GP practices can support the screening pathway in the most appropriate way.”
Pam Hall, Screening and Immunisations Lead for NHS England Midlands and East, said it was working closely with the screening service providers to free up additional capacity - so that tests can be processed more quickly.
She added: “We would encourage women to continue to take up the opportunity of cervical screening when they are invited to do so.”
Dr Michael Eden, from Cambridge University Hospitals trust, said: “The results from routine cervical screening take up to 12 weeks due to the current staff shortages in regional and national screening capacity.”
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust helpline number is 0808 802 8000.
Dr Eden said he wanted to reassure women if they go to their GP with symptoms that cause concern, and they are due or overdue for screening, their test will be marked as urgent and results turned around rapidly.
Source : http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/16389608.hundreds-of-women-in-colchester-and-mid-essex-are-thought-to-be-affected/374