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Four in five women in Medway wait more than three weeks for smear test results

Almost 80% of women in Medway are waiting three or more weeks to get their smear test results.

The NHS has set a target for patients to receive results within 14 days of being examined but the latest figures show 79% of Medway women wait more than 21 days.

Four in five women in Medway wait more than three weeks for smear test results
Four in five women in Medway wait more than three weeks for smear test results

For the rest of Kent, 64.2% of women experience a delay of three or more weeks between having a test and finding out the result - a 16.7% increase on last year.

Women in Kent and Medway are waiting significantly longer than the average woman in England - with the national figure for those experiencing a delay of three or more weeks being 33.5%.

Smear tests, also known as cervical screening, detect abnormal tissue which may lead to cervical cancer.

For the past year, the tests for women in Medway and west Kent have been processed by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), which has been approached for a comment.

All other cervical screening samples collected in the county were carried out at East Kent University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (EK).

However, as it was previously suggested, the programme has now been replaced by more advanced screening, which may reduce waiting times.

The tests are no longer processed at MTW or EK, but are instead all sent to Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services where primary HPV screening is used instead of primary cytological screening.

The NHS has said this change will increase efficiency and save more lives.

A spokesman added: "Following clinical improvements to the cervical screening process and changes to the national screening programme, all Kent samples will be tested at a region-wide centre covering the south east, provided by Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.

"The change is due to the increased sensitivity of the HPV test, longer protection of a negative result and better outcomes, as more than 99% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV."

Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services took over the service from EK on November 4, with MTW following on November 24.

Kent trusts will continue to provide laboratory services but not for the cervical screening programme.

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