Consultant misread 100 smear tests

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A consultant pathologist has been removed from cervical screening after misreading the slides of 180 women. More than 100 women with abnormal cervical smears have been recalled by the hospital in Lincoln after the consultant wrongly reported them as normal.

The errors, disclosed yesterday, will fuel concern about the cervical screening programme after it emerged on Friday that eight women died after their smears were misread in the Kent and Canterbury hospital scandal.

However, experts said the latest problem, at Lincoln County Hospital, demonstrated how new quality checks on the service were working.

The women's smears had already been through an initial screen which had identified them as suspect and they had been referred to the consultant for an expert opinion. After figures showed the consultant was reporting fewer women with moderate to severe abnormalities than expected a review of all 317 smears he had reported as normal over the past five years was carried out. That revealed 180 had been misread.

The hospital announced yesterday that three women had already received further treatment and a further 34 have been invited for a repeat smear. The remaining 112 have been invited for colposcopy - direct examination of the cervix using a special microscope.

Sarah Skelton, director of nursing at the hospital, said the consultant was on sick leave for an unrelated reason and would not be returning to cervical screening. "There is no suggestion or evidence that our primary screening processes which cover the vast majority of slides have any deficiencies," she said, adding that the review had been triggered by new quality standards.