Women face postcode lottery'

PUBLISHED: 10:06 23 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

Women in Comet country are being denied the most effective cervical smear testing technology due to unacceptable delays in funding, according to a leading sexual and reproductive health agency. Marie Stopes International (MSI) has stated that evidence fro

Women in Comet country are being denied the most effective cervical smear testing technology due to unacceptable delays in funding, according to a leading sexual and reproductive health agency.

Marie Stopes International (MSI) has stated that evidence from large scale NHS pilot studies prove the latest liquid-based cytology technique produces clearer, cleaner samples that are easier to interpret by laboratory technicians - reducing the incidents of inadequate samples by up to 80 per cent.

In 2003, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended this latest technology should be universally adopted by the NHS within five years.

Yet, according to MSI, the East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust has a nought per cent conversion rate.

Dr Kate Worsley, head of medical development at MSI, said: "Yet again the women of this country are facing the NHS postcode lottery syndrome.

"It depends entirely on where you live as to whether or not you benefit from the advantages that liquid-based cytology can offer."

A spokesman for East and North Hertfordshire PCT said: "We would like to reassure people that the PCTs in Hertfordshire will be adopting the new liquid-based cytology technology. This will take place as laboratories are equipped for the new system and staff are trained.

"NICE gave health authorities five years to make the conversion to the new method and we are on track to meet this target."

She added: "We would like to reassure people that the existing system is accurate and clinically safe and that women should not delay in having smear tests carried out."

MSI has launched a national campaign, seeking to increase NHS availability of smear testing using liquid-based cytology.

For more information, visit: www.mariestopes.org.uk or call: 0207 574 7358 for an information pack.

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