Women’s health strategy could improve cancer screening, says Bradshaw

Alliance Party Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said a strategy is needed to improve women’s healthcare outcomes, which should include cervical cancer screening services. Her comments come after the BBC revealed that three abnormal smears test were missed in the care of a 45-year-old woman by the Southern and Western Trusts between 2011 and 2017. The patient underwent a radical hysterectomy after a test in 2019 found cancer cancerous cells.

Health Paula Bradshaw


“Smear testing, whilst unpleasant, is essential to preventing cervical cancer, early diagnosis, and ultimately, saving the lives of women, and patients should rightly expect the screening process to be rigorous,” said Ms Bradshaw.  


“My heart goes out to the woman who has been severely impacted by these missed opportunities, as well as the other women who have been picked up by the review process. It is essential that all Trusts complete these audits and get on top of this backlog of unchecked smear tests. 


“Women deserve better, and we need a restored Executive to prioritise a women’s health strategy to improve health outcomes. Such a strategy should focus on earlier cancer screening, resourcing for investigative diagnostics and clinics where women can access smear testing alongside menopause, maternity and fertility services. We also need to see improved auditing procedures, so that we have the data required to make meaningful health interventions. 


“I hope that the experience of this patient will not deter other women from attending appointments for cervical screening, and would urge all women to take a smear test when offered.”