Waiting times for LLETZ

I've been having colposcopies regularly now since about 2010, with the results of punch biopsies always showing CIN1 and later 'HPV Changes only' (I'm not entirely sure what that means but all the smear test they've done in between have come back as Mild Dyskaryosis).

I think the hospital were hoping that things would eventually clear up without any treatment but at my last appointment in June I saw a different consultant and he explained that they would also be doing a test for high risk HPV as I'd had persistent mild changes for such a long time. The results of that test showed that I do have high risk HPV, which I understand means that it's a type of HPV that is more likely to develop into cancer in the long term if left untreated.

So they want to do some treatment (LLETZ) and my appointment is booked for early October. Obviously it's not something I'm looking forward to but I'm just hoping that my smear tests are all normal afterwards.

Anyway, a couple of people have suggested to me about asking for my appointment to be brought forward. I'm not convinced that that would be possible because it's on the NHS and I presume that people with more urgent needs are prioritised, which of course makes sense. I think the idea was that bringing the appointment forward would just get it over and done with (obviously). Another option might be for me to pay to have the treatment privately but since all but one of my colposcopies has been done at the same hospital I figured that it made more sense to stay with them for continuity of care (although, that said, I don't see the same person each time anyway) and I don't know how it would work if I moved from NHS treatment to private and then back to NHS for follow up smear tests/colposcopies.

Sorry for the somewhat rambling message. I suppose my question is about whether anyone has ever asked for an NHS appointment to be brought forward and what happened and also whether anyone has had private treatment for abnormal cervical changes and if that can work in tandem with NHS follow ups.

Hope that makes sense! Thanks in advance.

Hi there, 

I'm sorry for you're having to go through this. With regard to appoinments, I think it depends on the area. I'm awaiting a colposcopy appointment and when I rang the clinic they told me they have a backlog and it would be October/November before I'm seen. I've always assumed they would prioritise ladeis with high grade changes - ie severe (CIN3 or CIN2) - and I also undertsand that the HPV testing the NHS have introduced with screening has meant more women being sent to colposcopy which will put a strain on services. As your cell changes haven't gone beyond mild since 2010 it's unlikely that waitiing until October will make much difference, but I undertsand it's hard having to wait and having it hanging over you. 

You could ring the clinic and ask if there's any chance of having your appointment brought forward. If they say no, you could say you're happy to accept a cancellation, if you would be able to go at fairly short notice. I said I'd accept a cancellation with my last coploscopy and was seen sooner than my scheduled appointment.

There's nothing to stop you having the treatment done privately as it's your body and your choice, but as for how it would fit in with returning to the NHS is probably something you'd have to discuss with your GP. The NHS are using HPV testing as a way of managing follow ups after treatment, and if you've had private treatment they may not be able to do this in the same way. There's more info on the NHS cervical screening website, it's called 'test of cure' and there is a chart showing how women are now followed up after LLETZ using HPV testing. Mind you, I don't know if it's being used in all areas yet, again your GP or the colposcopy clinic could hopefully tell you that.

I do understand how worrying all this is and how hard the waiting is, and hope you're able to get the right information you need to make your decision about waiting for treatment on the NHS or having it done privately. All the best.

Thanks Twilight. Everything you've said makes sense and is what I probably already knew(!) but it's good to hear your experience, even though, as  you say, it will vary between areas. It would be nice to get the treatment out of the way but at the same time, now I have an appointment I've kind of got that date in my head and feel ok about it. It was more that a couple of family members suggested asking about bringing it forward.

I think I'll stick with the appointment as it is for now. As I said, I'd thought about the possibility of private treatment but returning to the same hospital feels right for now as it does provide some continuity of care and all my records are there now so it's just easier.

I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E) so because my energy levels can fluctuate a bit I don't think I'll bother asking about cancellations because being able to do a bit of forward planning (including my SO arranging a day off work to come with me) makes the pace feel a bit more gentle and less rushed (and therefore - hopefully - less exhausting!).

Thanks again for replying and also for mentioning the 'test of cure', which I'll take a look at. Take care.