The Western Health and Social Care Trust has refused to reveal the timeline relating to the notification of 86 women of the need for a second cervical smear test.

The Impartial Reporter can confirm however that for some women ten months have elapsed since the initial test, which they were informed was normal, and subsequently receiving notification that in fact the test was wrongly reported and that they need to arrange a second cervical smear test.

In an initial statement on Tuesday the Trust revealed that it had written to 86 women, 61 of whom are in the Western Trust, to advise them of the need to get a cervical smear test after “variances in the reporting of a number of tests were identified during routine performance checks”.

The statement confirmed that the tests that were reviewed were tested in its pathology lab between April 2018 and June 2018.

The Impartial Reporter asked a number of questions to the Trust including when the performance checks took place and when the subsequent review was initiated.

However the Trust said it could not give a timeframe with Dr Dermot Hughes, Medical Director, Western Trust stating: “The Trust is continuing with its review and therefore it would be too early to comment or pre-empt the outcome. We are going through a review process and we have to allow this to take place. It was the Western Trust’s priority to ensure a process was in place to notify those ladies concerned to arrange a repeat smear with their GP and also to prioritise providing the test results to the ladies as quickly as possible.”

One woman who received a letter spoke to The Impartial Reporter this week and expressed her anger at the time lapse.

“It was almost a year ago when I had my smear test. It seems a long-time to figure out that it wasn’t right and that I needed another one.”

The Impartial Reporter has also seen a copy of a letter received by one patient in the Trust where it states that their test was not reported correctly: “Your test should have been reported as having “borderline changes,” the letter reads before revealing that a possibly vital test was not carried out.

“Usually when results are borderline we would also test the sample for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) to help decide if any further follow up is needed. As this did not happen in your case, I am advising that you have a repeat smear test now to check if there are still changes in the cells and if we need to arrange further follow up.”

The letter also came with some advisory notes stating that should HPV be found in a case that showed borderline changes that further tests including a colposcopy be carried out.

In the initial statement from the Trust on Tuesday Dr. Hughes said:

“I understand that this may cause worry and inconvenience for the women affected and I sincerely apologise for this.

“I would like to reassure everyone that the samples that were reviewed were a small percentage of those screened and reported between April 2018 and June 2018. The stringent quality checks that are in place have reassured us that it was only a certain number of tests within this timeframe that were required to be re-examined.”

The Western Trust has advised the affected women that if they have any concerns or want further information, they should contact the Western Trust’s Laboratory Department on 028 7161 1350, from February 5 to February 13 between 9am to 5pm.