§ Rev. Martin Smyth
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many cytology laboratories are available in Northern Ireland for processing cervical smear tests; how many such tests have been processed during the last three years for which figures are available; how many weeks it takes to complete processing of these tests; and what backlog currently exists.
§ Mr. Needham
There are currently four laboratories in Northern Ireland processing cervical smears. The detailed information is set out in the following table. The fall in the number of smears processed in 1985 was due to a higher than usual rate of resignation and sickness amongst trained staff. It takes at least one year fully to train replacements.
1984 1985 1986 Current backlog Total smears processed 73,555 64,736 70,122 7,224
Note: Average processing time is 7.7 weeks.
1 Diagnostic and repeat smears are given priority and are processed normally within two weeks.