A LAB at the centre of a two year investigation will no longer analyse smear tests after the contract for the east of England was awarded to a failing hospital instead.

NHS England has confirmed Pathology First has lost it contract for smear testing as it centralises the service for six counties at just one cytology lab at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital - which is currently under special measures.

An improved method of cervical screening known as human papilloma virus (HPV) primary screening is being rolled-out across the country in July.

Pathology First previously made errors on dozens of tests falsely giving women in south Essex the all clear.

Fortunately none of the errors resulted in missed cancer diagnosis.

Viki Frew, consultant biomedical scientist for cervical screening at the Norwich hospital, said: “We have a great track record of ensuring that samples are processed efficiently and to a high standard. “We will be putting in place our mobilisation and service delivery plans to ensure a smooth transition and samples from across the East of England get to us quickly. We will utilise the best possible IT solutions across the pathway connecting us to GP surgeries and clinics across the region.”

A spokesman for Pathology First said: “Following consultation with the senior management of Basildon and Southend Trusts, the Pathology First Board decided not to bid for the HPV Primary contract. Nine contracts have been awarded for the UK.”

An investigation into the Pathology First operation began in 2017 and resulted in more than 4,500 samples being retested.

A total of 64 women were wrongly given the all clear. None of the women retested developed cervical cancer.

In May, the Care Quality Commission said the Norwich hospital had improved from “inadequate” but said it would continue to receive support and an action plan is in place for five years