GPs have been warned to stop snubbing thousands of women seeking cervical cancer checks amid concern that lives are being put at risk.

In an email to family doctors, NHS chiefs report complaints from women unable to book screening appointments. Some are told to call back and others are given appointments, only for the date to be cancelled.

Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable. The national screening programme picks up abnormalities early so cancer can be prevented before it starts. The programme is estimated to save 4,000 lives every year.

There has always been some reluctance among women to come forward for screening. Last week the launch of a small trial in five London boroughs of at-home smear tests was announced to see if this

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