Quicker results for cervical smear tests

IPSWICH: A team at Ipswich Hospital which tests cervical smear samples has the quickest turnaround time for results in the region.

The cytology (study of cells) team analyse around 2,000 smear samples a month, which tests women for pre-cancerous cells in the cervix, and the average turnaround time for results is five days on average – the fastest in the east of England.

Last year during a particularly busy period, it took an average of 44 days to get results back to women.

The number of women in the UK attending cervical smear appointments rocketed after television celebrity Jade Goody died from cervical cancer last year.

Lynn Partridge, histology/cytology service manager, said: “We were 120 per cent busier in April last year compared to the year before and the numbers stayed high throughout the summer.

“At the peak, it was taking us 44.1 days to turnaround a sample from the day we received it and now it is just two days.”

The improved turnaround times at Ipswich have resulted from better ways of working, including different rotas which allow laboratory staff more time for analysis.

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Ms Patridge added: “It usually takes a day for the sample to reach us from the GP surgery and from the point we receive it, it takes us on average two days to analyse and turn around.

“Our results are electronically sent to the screening service every night and it takes a day or so for the letter to be printed and sent back to the patient.

“This is a test to diagnose pre-cancerous legions on the cervix so once women have had the test they are unsurprisingly keen to get the results back to alleviate anxiety. I’m proud our team is helping address that, as well as enabling quicker treatment for those who need it.”

By the end of this year, all health organisations nationally must ensure women are getting their cytology tests results back within 14 days of the test taking place.

n Have you suffered from cervical cancer and want to tell us your experience? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk