HEALTH bosses have refused to issue an update into an investigation about whether thousands of smear tests were wrongly diagnosed - a year on.

Pathology First in Bentalls, Basildon, is under investigation for possible diagnostic errors involving 2,500 samples.

A high-level meeting was said to have been held last Wednesday into the progress of the independent investigation, which could result in 55,000 tests taken over the last two years being retested.

Despite indicating an update into the investigation would be issued following the meeting, Southend and Basildon Hospitals have since refused to do so.

Victoria Parker, interim director of communications and engagement for mid Essex, Basildon and Southend NHS trusts said “due to the nature of this and the multi-agency complexity of the issue” Public Health England, NHS England and the lab would have to be consulted before an update was issued.

The Echo reported in April how 1,500 samples had still not been tested.

The lab was launched as a joint venture between Southend and Basildon Hospitals and private company Integrated Pathology Partnerships in 2016.

Last month, the Basildon Clinical Commissioning Group heard at its board meeting concerns from Eric Watts, a former clinical director for Basildon Hospital and a lay member for the group, who said patients were still seeing a poor service from the Pathology First service.

Concerns have also been raised about staffing levels at the lab.

Norman Traub, a former consultant haematologist at Southend Hospital and spokesman for the Southend Keep the NHS Public campaign said: “If a lab is run by a private company that is interested in its profits they will want to reduce the number of qualified staff to increase profits. They will cut corners.

“We can lay the blame for this whole debacle on NHS England for taking away this service from two perfectly well run labs at Southend and Basildon Hospitals and giving it to a private company.”

Dr Traub added: “If you think of those poor women who are living with uncertainty about whether the tests they had done are reliable they must be in an anxious state.

“The lab has a duty to be full and frank with patients because it is they who are suffering as a result of their incompetence.

“It’s a very poor show that they refuse to give information they have been asked for.

“It’s totally unacceptable.”