SDLP East Derry MLA Cara Hunter has said that she is very concerned that all health trusts in the North have missed the target for reporting smear test results.
Health trusts have a target of reporting 80% of smear test results to the patient within four weeks.
Ms Hunter said the news was particularly worrying given the importance of acting quickly in cases of cervical cancer and said the delays would cause anxiety for patients.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“News that every health trust has breached its four-week target for the reporting of smear test results will cause concern amongst women right across the North. It is repeatedly emphasised to women the importance of regular smear tests for the early detection of cervical cancer and as a result of the pressures on our health service patients are facing waits of over a month, with some waiting over three months to receive their results.
“Going for a smear test can be a stressful experience, especially for younger women who are going through it for the first time. I have also highlighted the concerns of victims of sexual assault and trauma and we should be doing everything possible to make those undergoing these tests as comfortable as possible. Facing long waits for results can cause significant anxiety and concern and while most results will thankfully be clear, for those who are diagnosed with cervical cancer vital treatment time could be lost as a result of these delays, potentially putting lives at risk.
“The problems in our health service are well known and this is just one of the human impacts of our failure to implement long overdue reforms and restructuring. I accept that services are under pressure, almost all of them are, and work is ongoing to address these issues, but women deserve better than having to wait months for results following tests for cancer or having their chances of recovery impacted as a result.”