GP practices in the East of England have been informed of patients facing delays in receiving their cervical cancer screening results.
In a document seen by Pulse, GPs have been informed that letters containing the results of cervical cancer screening samples are being sent later than the usual 14 days due to ‘ongoing changes’ within the programme.
GPs have been told these delays are ‘expected’ to continue until the HPV primary screening programme is fully implemented by December.
In March, Capita was stripped of the cervical screening contract and NHS England began a phased transition back in-house in June.
The reason for the delays are said to be from a move to a new testing process as part of the in-house programme.
The letter said: ‘There are currently delays in people receiving the results from their cervical screen as part of the NHS cervical screening programme. Letters are usually issued within 14 days of the original sample-taking appointment; however, people across England are currently experiencing longer waits due to ongoing changes within the programme.
‘While the level of delay is unlikely to cause or increase the risk of clinical harm, we need to ensure that we manage expectations so as not to cause unnecessary worry.’
The BMA said it is seeking ‘urgent clarification’ with NHS England.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘Our first and foremost concern is the safety of our patients, for this to be ensured we require safe and efficient systems to be in place. As with any delay in processing test results and issuing letters, there will always be anxiety for patients and frustration for GPs. We are seeking urgent clarification from NHS England about this issue and how widespread it is.’
A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘NHS England and Public Health England are introducing a new testing process for cervical screening which will identify more women at risk of cervical cancer and save more lives. Local areas are working hard to reduce any delays in women receiving their test results and as cervical cancer mostly takes many years to develop, clinical impact is unlikely.’
Last year, it was revealed that Capita waited two months to tell NHS England about its issues in the delivering of 47,000 cervical cancer screening letters.