Will new rules in Wales cause an increase in cases of cervical cancer smear test negligence?
February 25, 2022
Wales have recently announced changes to cervical screening tests- increasing the time between smear tests from three to five years. This may lead to a rise in cervical cancer smear test negligence. However, a top gynaecologist has said changes in cervical cancer screenings will help save lives, not put them at risk. Prof Alison Fiander, a clinical lead at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said people should not be worried screenings have dropped from every three to every five years in Wales. This is because the tests are “more effective”.
Health chiefs in Wales said they changed the interval between screenings to the same time as those in Scotland. Cervical screening gaps in England and Northern Ireland remain at three years.
What are the screening changes in Wales?
The new process means people with a cervix who had not tested positive for HPV will now wait five years instead of three between tests.
“It’s based on the science that over 99% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV,” said Prof Fiander. “The cervical screening programme is using a new test, testing for HPV and that’s more sensitive than the old method of screening, which was looking for cell changes from the cervix. It allows us to pick up women who are at risk of developing cervical cancer earlier than before.
“For people who have already tested positive for HPV or have been seen in colposcopy, which is where we see women with an abnormal smear, they will be followed up more closely.”
PHW said the changes are evidence based. They also follow a recommendation from the UK National Screening Committee in 2019. This advice brings the advice for this age group in line with the screening interval for those aged between 50 and 64.
Professor Fiander said: “Even if you get a HPV infection the day after screening, it takes between 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop, so leaving the screening interval for five years is absolutely fine as long as you go and get screened when you’re invited.”
HPV testing was successfully introduced in Wales in 2018. PHW said almost nine out of 10 results show no high-risk HPV.
Will this Increase Cases of Cervical Cancer Smear Test Negligence?
If smear tests come back with abnormal cells, then the next step is a colposcopy, then further testing. This is where cervical cancer smear test negligence could happen. It could be that a doctor reads the results incorrectly, or there is a delay in results coming back. If there is a delay in diagnosis due to human error, such as a Doctor not seeing the red flags, then you may be able to make a claim.
Whether or not the changes in Wales make a difference to this negligence remains to be seen. However, if cases do increase, then people may be able to make medical negligence claims.
How We Can Help
Here at The Medical Negligence Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with medical negligence claims. This includes cervical cancer smear test negligence. So contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138761 to speak to one of our friendly experts.