24 Jun Scotland: Woman dies after being incorrectly excluded from cervical screening programme | UK News
A woman has died following an error in Scotland’s cervical screening programme.
She is one of 430 women who were incorrectly excluded from the programme because they were thought not to be at risk.
The Scottish government has apologised for the error, which its opponents have described as a “serious public health failure”.
The error was discovered during a routine audit of cervical cancer data over the past 24 years. It found a number of women had been excluded from the programme following a hysterectomy procedure.
Up to five of them went on to develop cervical cancer, one of whom died.
The Scottish government says that most hysterectomies involve the removal of the cervix, following which there’s no need for cervical screening.
However, some hysterectomies don’t involve the removal of all or part of the cervix and, in these circumstances, a woman should still be invited for screening.
Some were not and therein lies the error.
Scotland’s women’s health minister Maree Todd said: “I want to offer my condolences to the family of the woman who we now know died from cervical cancer after being excluded from the screening programme.
“These exclusions from the cervical screening programme should not have happened and I want to apologise to all those affected by this error. I offer my heartfelt apologies in particular to the women who were excluded from the programme who went on to develop cancer, and to their families.”
The women wrongly excluded from screening are being offered “fast-tracked” appointments.
The Scottish government says that all those known to be affected have been written to and will receive a letter in the next few days if they haven’t already.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, health spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “This is a serious public health failure. It will be deeply alarming news to women across the country and it is a tragic reminder of the importance of robust screening programmes.
“The government must do whatever it takes to quickly identify and contact every woman who may have been affected and guarantee that anyone who is worried can access advice and support without delay.
“We also need to know how these screening errors went undetected for so long and escaped the eye of audit after audit.”