The Deputy's question relates to the limitations of screening, as well as of audit and review, as set out in the report of Dr Gabriel Scally. Screening tests are a balance of sensitivity and specificity and therefore include both false negative and false positive results which could affect the screening outcome and treatment of a person who may or who may not have a disease. False negatives are those samples where the slide was originally reported as negative but on review abnormal cells are found. As outlined in the report of the Scoping Inquiry, some screening programmes divide those false negatives into one of two groups:
1. Abnormalities that most screeners would not have detected;
2. Abnormalities that most screeners would have detected.
It is often a matter for professional judgement and discussion into which of these two groups any single false negative will fit. Following the Government decision on 8 May, I established an independent Expert Panel Review of Cervical Screening as part of the investigation into issues relating to the CervicalCheck Screening Programme. The review will be carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with expertise also sourced through the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
The purpose of the review is to provide women who participated in the national CervicalCheck screening programme and who developed invasive cervical cancer with independent clinical assurance about the timing of their diagnosis and treatment. The panel will endeavour to determine, wherever possible, any failures to prevent cancer or to intervene at an earlier stage and will prepare individual written summary reports for those affected, setting out the facts and their expert and independent assessment of those facts.