Online plan is threat to cervical screening

Scottish GPs have called for the roll-out of a new online cervical cytology screening system to be postponed, amid concerns that access to results will be unreliable.

The Scottish Cervical Call Recall System (SCCRS) is due to be launched this month.

But Dr Jim O’Neil, chairman of Glasgow LMC, told delegates at the Scottish LMCs conference in Clydebank last week, that moving away from paper to electronic records would lead to countless problems.

‘First we will all need a password to access the website before having to do a two-hour training programme. Then labels need to be printed from the internet,’ Dr O’Neil said.

Lothian GP Dr Catriona Morton agreed that the new system did not sound user friendly.

‘You have to be suspicious when it takes two hours to learn that we have done a smear test.’

GPs were also unhappy that they would have to go online to retrieve smear results.

‘At the moment you get the smear result on a piece of paper, but the only way we’ll get them in the future is to go and look for them on the internet,’ said Dr O’Neil. ‘Ninety-eight per cent of my patients in a deprived area of Glasgow were given a smear opportunistically.

‘This would be difficult to do if the internet was down or there were technical problems. This could mean that some women slip through the net.’

We were told that if we didn’t have internet access then we should go into a practice that does have it.’

But Dr Stuart Scott, deputy chairman of the Scottish GPC, said fears that training would take two hours were unfounded, and not all practice staff involved in smear testing would have to undergo training.

The Scottish Executive said that the scheme would begin on 29 May.

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